The Hives are on their way to becoming the world’s second
best-known garage rockers. The current champions — the White
Stripes, of course — seem to shy away from popularity,
keeping their songs out of television commercials and their faces
out of the spotlights. But the Hives relish fame, with their
market-ready matching suits and a willingness to whore themselves
out to mass media.

Music Reviews

Their latest release, Tyrannosaurus Hives, provides
easier access to the garage aesthetic; less harshness, more
sing-a-long songs. Lead single “Walk Idiot Walk” is a
perfect example of this change: While not exactly radio-friendly,
“Idiot” still sounds more classic rock than garage rock
with its flexible, sharp guitar sound and “Xena Warrior
Princess”-inspired chorus. It’s a polished piece: True,
you can still hear lo-fi harshness, but “Idiot” sounds
glossier and more produced than anything the White Stripes have put
out.

The changes aren’t limited to their lead single.
“Diabolic Scheme” provides villainous chords and actual
guitar solos with vocals that aren’t as cheesy as they could
be: “That’s me all right / like purity white / and like
viciousness black / I give a little / then I take it back.”
Lead singer Pelle Almqvist sounds like Captain Beefheart if he had
listened to the Sex Pistols instead of Skip James as a child.

Almqvist’s howl aids ridiculous songs like “See
Through Head” (“Oh oh oh oh oh / I spot you from a mile
away”) and well-written ones like “Dead Quote
Olympics” (“[It] doesn’t mean it’s good
’cause you found it at the library / Yes they were smart, but
they are dead / And your (sic) repeating all that they
said”).

If you can forgive the oxymoron of an expensive, studio-produced
garage band, then Tyrannosaurus Hives is surprisingly
enjoyable. The band is still maturing, but this is an undeniably
gutsy rock record.

Rating:  2.5 out of 5 stars.

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