The Hives – Lex Hives
Last year The Vaccines released an album called What Did You Expect From the Vaccines? I’d suggest the title would have been better saved for the new Hives record. Exactly what do you expect from The Hives? A decade after the string of popular singles? After enough time has passed that we can properly put the turn of the millennium “The Something” bands in context? Even at the time it wasn’t a secret that the third crucial ingredient of The Hives at the peak of their popularity, alongside urgency and catchiness, was novelty, and it hardly needs to be said that you can’t get far on that.
It could be mentioned that fifth album Lex Hives brings in more classic rock influences. We could say that there isn’t a song that even approaches the quality ‘Die, All Right!’ or ‘Supply and Demand’ although glam rock stomper ‘Go Right Ahead’ could be a distant cousin. We can talk about the annoying repetition of ‘Wait a Minute’ and how if you’re going to repeat a hook a death it better be a good one. Or there’s the distinctly Hivesian “character study” of ‘Patrolling Days’. Some moments are fairly effective and will surely scratch the itch if Lex Hives is a record you’ve been looking forward to. Other moments are quite weak in comparison to the material the band are best known for.
It has to be said that the only people that are really going to love this are those that bought Veni Vedi Vicious or Your New Favourite Band and stopped listening to music after that. It will come across as a pretty “rockin” release to anyone who found Mumford & Sons on the radio and heard folk authenticity or those who see their preferred rock heroes from back in the day perform every other year at the local concert hall.
But an audience is audience and for what it’s worth I hope that Lex Hives finds its mark. And something seems a little unfair about putting it next to the new Death Grips album, for example. Variety is of course the spice of life, but The Hives have now passed their period of relevance and vitality, I’m not going to call it self-parody because their tongue-in-cheek tone was always present (that was intentional right?). They’re playing to people who liked and still like The Hives.
When I saw them wonderfully misplaced on the main stage of a metal festival almost ten years ago they did a lot of winning over within their set. Their colour and character made it notable. And even if Lex Hives was the best album it could have been time isn’t on their side, but you can’t blame time for everything. So what should you expect from The Hives? A classic rock arc of diminishing returns, with some exceptions, while playing to the converted. Much weaker bands have made a career out of it.