The Hives | Lex Hives (Disques Hives)

cd hivesThe problem isn’t that this isn’t a good album; it is, but it lacks something.

When I was in sixth grade, when groups like Limp Bizkit and Korn were dominating the world of rock music, a group of suit-clad men changed my young life. I had been a fan of late-’80s/early-’90 s alt-rock, with the likes of Thurston Moore, Kurt Cobain, and Doug Martsch forming my young opinion of music, but the angst that was growing inside of me wanted something more punk driven. The Hives filled that void, and helped open my eyes to a whole new world of music.

After leaving the comforts of a major label, The Hives took quite some time to record their latest album, Lex Hives. With no one producer, studio, or, seemingly, theme, Lex Hives offers a look into the minds of what these men have become. The album opens with “Come On,” a high-energy song clearly meant to build up a listener in preparation of the rest of the album; however, the addition of applause from audio samples takes away from any energy the band hoped to capture. Looking back at their other albums, I don’t find a single opening track that disappoints; the songs have always been able to pull me in and set me up for what followed. The highlight for most listeners would have been on 2002’s Your New Favourite Band with “Hate to Say I Told You So.” Even 2007’s The Black & White Album opened with “Tick Tick Boom,” which was undoubtedly one of the band’s best singles. Maybe the lack of one real producer kept the act from being able to create a better track listing, but the inconsistency of Lex Hives starts with track one and seems to carry throughout the album.

Track two, “Go Right Ahead,” sounds like something right out of an EA Sports game; if The Hives haven’t already tried to sell the rights, they need to contact the makers of NHL 13 and get it included ASAP. The intensity of previous Hives albums shows up: brass; cymbals crashing; catchy, brash guitar hooks—everything one would expect. The problem? It seems to carry on, and on… I want to skip to the next track after about a minute. Again, this would be perfect for a videogame: You could just skip to the next menu.

The problem isn’t that this isn’t a good album; it is, but it lacks something. The Hives stick to what they know, but it seems like they are trying to add some kind of twist to make themselves fresh. They shouldn’t do that, as they are what they are: garage-punk rockers on speed. That works, and Lex Hives touches on that. Take the track, “If I Had a Cent.” It is fast, simple, and makes you tap your foot. Then, for some reason, they follow it up with some sort of blues-punk song that seems unfit for a closing track.

I don’t want to make Lex Hives seem all bad, because it isn’t. Still, I don’t think I would go through the trouble of buying a physical copy. As this album seems to be a lot of individual tracks thrown together, you are better off picking and choosing tracks from your favorite online music retailer. I still love The Hives—I don’t think one album could change that—but this is by far my least favorite of their offerings. I think I’ll just go back to 1997 and keep Barely Legal on my playlist. | Alex Hodschayan

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