in Retrospecticus

The Hives are bonafide rockers. You just don’t see that many bands today that carry the same kind of swagger and showmanship that The Hives do. The Hives are a fun band because they have fun. While other bands brood over making work that’s artistically the meaningful, The Hives live to entertain and appear to enjoy every minute of it. So in honor of the band’s fifth album let’s revisit the music of; Nicholaus Arson, Vigilante Carlstroem, Dr. Matt Destruction, Chris Dangerous, and Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist.

Barely Legal (1997)

Recorded when most of the band was around the wee age of 19, Barely Legal is an album that exudes youthful energy. Unfortunately, that also means it’s an album that lacks maturity and musical sophistication. Known today for their garage rock sound, Barely Legal bares a far stronger resemblance to hardcore punk music. The songs are fast, dirty, sloppy, and all under three minutes. There’s some standouts moments with tracks like “A.K.A. I-D-I-O-T”, but most of Barely Legal more or less blur together. It’s a mildly entertaining debut, but when compared to later Hives music it certainly lacks a certain spark.

Favorite Tracks: “A.K.A. I-D-I-O-T” , “Here We Go Again”, “I’m a Wicked One”

Veni Vidi Vicious (2000)

It was on The Hives sophomore release that the band started to garner the attention of the mainstream. Grouped together with several other “The” bands like The White Stripes and The Vines, The Hives became part of the “Garage Rock Revival” of the early 00s. Veni Vidi Vicious brings the manic energy of Barely Legal but with a stronger emphasis on classic rock riffs. The Melodies are clearer and songs are more focused (well, as focused as they could be for The Hives). Veni Vidi Vicious is more straightforward rock that’s played at punk-like speeds. Of course it’s best known for containing The Hives’ classic “Hate to Say I Told You So”. Other Hives staples like “Die Alright” and “Main Offender” make this album a fine introduction to the feisty garage rock of Sweden’s finest rock rebels.

Favorite Tracks: “Die Alright”, “Hate to Say I Told You So”, “Main Offender”

Tyrannosaurus Hives (2004)

This was my introduction to the group so it holds a special place in my heart. Tyrannosaurus Hives saw the band evolving as any talented band should. The songs were getting better, more refined, but not too polished. Tyrannosaurus Hives is still a crazy album, but it’s a more disciplined crazy. Additionally, Tyrannosaurus Hives featured more variation in the types of sounds and instruments used. There’s more backup vocals, bits and pieces of synths, and even a string arrangement by Bjorn Yttling of Peter, Bjorn, John on the track “Diabolic Scheme”. I swear Bjorn Yttling wont stop until he’s worked with every Swedish band working today.

Tyrannosaurus Hives also marked the moment where I realized Chris Dangerous was one of my favorite modern drummers. It’s amazing how someone can play so fast and yet play so clean. His expertise may be the most prominent on the track “”Two-Timing Touch and Broken Bones” where he switches between his snare drum and tom-tom with his left hand, while playing eighth-notes on his hi-hat cymbals. Ultimately, this is album is still a thrilling experience and will always remind me of my “rebellious” teenage years.

Favorite Tracks: “Abra Cadaver”, “Antidote”, “Two-Timing Touch and Broken Bones”

The Black and White Album (2007)

The Black and White Album was a step forward for The Hives in many ways. Not only was it The Hives first album to break 40 minutes, it was their first album to break 30 minutes. Aside from that The Hives brought in a slew of different producers to narrow down 30 songs to only the absolute best tracks. So not only is this The Hives most diverse album, but it also contains some of their best songs. If that wasn’t enough, the single “Tick Tick Boom” became the bands biggest commercial hit. In many ways it’s hard to imagine The Hives ever making a better album than this. I’m not even sure which songs are my favorite, I like ’em all.

Favorite Tracks: “Giddy Up”, “Return the Favour”, “Tick Tick Boom”

Lex Hives is upcoming release by The Hives. How will it rank alongside the group’s other albums? Check back here to find out.