Tonight I’ve got the better late then never review of The Hives fifth studio album, “Lex Hives”. This is their first release in five years, since 2007’s, “The Black and White Album” and is a slightly different animal this time around.
I should start by saying I have always had an unabashed love for The Hives. Their first three albums were absolute bombshells of psychotic garage punk riffage, howling vocals and enough groove to make even the squarest ass shake. Combined with an eclectic sense of style brought forward by matching suits and off-kilter movements, they have always been a source of killer rock ‘n’ roll.
The reason I didn’t initially notice this albums release is also one of it’s defining features. This is the first Hives album to released independently through their own label, Disque Hives. While this album hasn’t hit any mainstream radio stations that I know of, that also means I wasn’t beat over the head with the new single (I’m looking at you “Tick, Tick, Boom”).
Another factor in this album is the fact is was recorded over essentially five years and recorded and engineered at a plethora of different places. This makes some of the songs feel out of place, which is a change of pace from the usually rock solid and straightforward albums of the past. This album also shows the band starting to try out different sounds, again stepping out from their traditional three-piece suit and frenetic guitar lines.
The majority of the tracks show much stronger pop influences, from the saxophones on “Go Right Ahead” to the slower groove on “Wait a Minute”. It’s showing a little bit of musical muscle stretching, which is to be expected, especially when the artist has stuck by the same style for so long. Some tracks even flirt with a White Stripes style blues flavor, like the ear-crunching riffs on “I Want More” or the organ and handclaps on “Without the Money”.
While some of these new tracks are unremarkable, there are still several bangers to be found over the 12 song album. “Come On!” opens the album up with the classic sound I’ve grown accustomed to, “Take Back the Toys” has one killer groove going and the closer, “Midnight Shifter” uses everything from slide guitar to saxophones in its pursuit of good times.
The crux of the thing I’ve been babbling towards is that this is a transition album. It shows a band that’s starting to think about growing up after the 10+ years of pedal-through-the-skull tempos and simple riffing. Right now I’m about 50/50 on this album, there’s enough good tracks to have made the purchase worthwhile but I don’t think it’s going to come near replacing “Tyrannosaurus Hives”.
“Lex Hives” is availble through all the major outlets and junk. Video’s for “Go Right Ahead” and “Wait a Minute” lie below.