The Black and White tour is rolling through Europe as the Hives have a new album out. "People, it is as if you have existed only in pathetic colours like beige, or pastel pink. For two years, you have felt listless, wishy-washy and largely kicks-free. Bad! But it has been bad for a reason: so that you fully appreciate the return of the good times. And these only come in two colours: BLACK & WHITE! Yeah!", the Hives boast on their site. They haven't lost a shred of that contagious arrogance that made them such an attraction in the first place.The Hives have been slowly building their audience since 1995. Akin to James Brown and the Famous Flames, they claimed superstar status when they were still playing for some fifty odd people. The Hives claimed to be the greatest R&R act on earth, shouting it loud to everybody willing or unwilling to listen. When the Hives hit the scene, R&R had become unbearably bland. After the whole Grunge movement R&R wasn't allowed to be fun anymore. R&R was drowning itself in a misguided sense of over seriousness. R&R was populated by navel staring acts. Dancing at a R&R show, if done at all, had to be done with your face to the ground, hiding behind a hair do screaming for a cut. R&R fashion was all but dead, the standard uniform became woodcutter shirts and ripped jeans, sporting clunky military boots. under no circumstances were you allowed to be actually enjoying yourself.
Somewhere at the turn of the century the Hives hit with a big bang with their first world wide album Veni Vedi Vicious. Claiming to have conquered the world when they had hardly stepped onto the scene. And Vicious R&R it was indeed. I remember seeing them in one of those depressing small town dance halls. The Hives hit the stage in smart looking matching suits with ties, slicked back hair and flashy instruments. "Hate to Say I Told You So" Howlin' Pelle blared into the microphone, prancing around like a macho bi-sexual, touting his lips like Jagger, scorching like James Brown, kicking like Kung Fu Elvis.Holy Shit!!!! Lightening hit!!!! This was R&R!!!! Within the 45 minutes set the audience was smacked right back into that raving storm of ballsy sexuality and raging celebration what R&R was supposed to be.
The story of the Hives is that of a classic Garage band. They had been slowly building their career since 1995's "Oh Lord, When? How!" EP. Starting out from the Garage they soon managed a pose that would propel them across the globe over the course of those next five years. The Hives soon successfully clouded themselves in constructed R&R myth. They claimed to have a mysterious sixth Hive, R&R mastermind Randy Fitzsimmons, writing all their songs. They claimed to be selling millions of albums before they hardly even broke the charts. The Hives warned us they might be to big to handle for the world, we were going to get burned. Somehow all this bravura caught on, turning myth in near reality. Within the course of a half year they went from that depressing dance hall to the charts, the dance floors of the clubs, the big venues and large festivals. Everywhere the Hives appeared they conquered, they were the hype of the day with the guts to back it up.
And a bit more than just guts to be honest. Where most Garage acts stick to their ramshackle guns, to their swaggering drums and guitars, the Hives next release "Tyrannosaurus Hives" betrayed they had bigger plans. The Hives had looked at the world and planned to take it. They wanted the whole pie, there was no way they'd be settling for a slice. "Tyrannosaurus Hives" kind of failed to make that transition, it didn't quite make it to that next level, failed to be the knock out it should have been. The Hives promise to be your next favorite band sounded a bit shallow there for a while.
But rest assured my friends, the Hives are back in full force with the "Black and White" album. The title cleverly appeals to legendary albums as the Beatles' "White Album" or Prince's "Black Album". The Hives aren't too much in your face claiming superstar status with this one, but they sure are suggesting that. If you would have thought that "Tyrannosaurus Hives" would have humbled the Hives some, you are mistaken. The Hives are still ready to conquer and brought in an army this time round. Under the working title "The World's First Perfect Album" the Hives worked with unorthodox but heavy weight Hip Hop producers the Neptunes, amongst others. This unlikely battle plan proves to be successful as the album hits like a Blitzkrieg from the opening chords to the final R&R packed explosion. The Hives open "Tick, Tick, Boom", dropping that bomb, exploding in your face, they allow no escape, pursuing you with vicious riffs and war drums through out the album. They are R&R soldiers marching on. To be honest, the album damn near lives up to its working tittle. Their new battle techniques remain subtly hidden, blind sighting you. Hardly allowing you to recover from the opening track hitting they strike nuclear with "Try It Again".
The Hives armies march in fast pace from there on. Packing fast punches layered with whiffs of New Wave and Hip Hop. The Hives stay true to their main R&R battle plan but add enough to keep breaking through the armies that might stand in their way. The years on the road have paid of. The Hives have never sounded tighter than on "Well Alright", swaggering between Franz Ferdinand and Stax chops. Try not punching your fist in the air on that one, I dare you, double dare you! They claim their name in capitals with Funk bomb "T.H.E. H.I.V.E.S". David Boewy could only wish he'd sound so sexy and dangerous again, the Hives are marching on, hide your mothers and daughters. They drive those R&R tanks through the enemy lines on "Square One" in a way the Stooges could only dream of these days, leaving those R&R dinosaurs trembling in fear once more. The Hives are here to take over, better get used to it.