Premature Evaluation

Premature Evaluation: The Hives – The Black And White Album

By Stereogum / October 26, 2007 - 5:44 pm

Since we’re on a Swedish kick, figured it made solid sense to Evaluate the new one by the “Hey YA!”-inspiring, Madden-and-Nike approved Hives. The quintet’s fourth album continues the garage revival, surely, but also mixes in more than a few curve balls. Whoever thought we’d bring up Rain Dogs and Pelle Almqvist in the same sentence? Throw in heavy doses of preacher-mode Ian Svenonius, too. Definitely dig the rush of first single “Tick Tick Boom” (and its blown up video) despite its commercial-licensing overkill. On The Black And White Album it’s followed by two other effective, but slightly-less-infectious shredders, “Try It Again” (all Make-Up talky) and the anthemic-as-fuck “You Got It All… Wrong.” Then, before long, them there curve balls start showing their zany little faces.

It’s ultimately, a more produced sound, and there are more sounds in general. The biggest experiments include mellow organ-and-drum machine instrumental “A Stroll Through Hive Manor Corridors,” which sounds like it’s title suggests — all kinda one-ring circus, “Take Me Out To The Ball Game,” and Larry Ferrari. It sorta goes nowhere … and we love it for that very reason … nice break. The equally jaunty “Puppet On A String” is built around noisemakers (like the kind you’d have on New Year’s), piano, and some group caroling. Over a slow drum machine pulse and a bit of the real deal, “Giddy Up” has a sorta Jon Spencer thing going with it’s preach-on vocals, but also some DEVO repetitions of the song title and “You Dropped A Bomb On Me” sound effects. Any good? No, not really.

On other tracks like the funky Pharrell-produced “T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S,” the hybridization’s more successful. Or check out the surreal breakdowns and “Lust For Life” choiring of “Well Allright!” … totally fun (and, yeah, see Ian S. again, too). The Jacknife Lee production has it all sounding shiny — see, for instance, the accents on absolutely Strokes-sounding “It Won’t Be Long.” Wait, do you hear some Bono in there, too? Weird.

All this aforementioned experimentation’s appreciated — no one likes to stagnate — but in the end, the Estrus-style straight garage like “Square One Here I Come” (though this one actually sounds kinda too much like a made-for-an-iPod-commercial jam) or better yet the raucously boozy, raved-up sing-a-long “You Dress Up For Armageddon” (again, more fucking Danzig!) are the band’s total bread and butter, the Hives at their best. So, hey, dudes, maybe just pen some tighter tunes within the original template?

The Black And White Album is out 11/13 on Interscope. Victory.