The Hives are back with a record that feels like they never left – our pick of the week's new releases
Where has rock ‘n’ roll been for the last 11 years? According to The Hives, it died with Randy Fitzsimmons.
Not seen or heard since 2012’s Lex Hives, a cryptic obituary for the band’s mysterious sixth member turned up in a local Swedish paper that led to a fresh grave containing a set of tapes, a bunch of new black and white suits and… no, of course that didn’t happen. Randy Fitzsimmons doesn’t exist (despite what Nicholas Arson says) but he’s still a great metaphor for what we’ve been missing for the last decade; old-fashioned, weird, hard-edged, dirty garage rock that couldn’t stay buried if it tried.
Picking up pretty much exactly where they left off, this isn’t The Hives getting old and slow – and it’s not them dabbling with new sounds and different moods – this is all the teen energy of ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’ played better and louder and stronger. It’s The Stooges and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins dragged along sticky floors to make the kind of music that gets kids wanting to pick up a guitar and break all the strings.
Some of the new tracks have been road-tested already this summer on the Arctic Monkeys UK tour, but this isn’t the kind of record you start the night with. First single ‘Bogus Operandi’ is big enough to open a stadium with, sure, blowing the amps with a single power chord, but it’s also the sort of track that made the whole Meet Me In The Bathroom era feel filthy in the first place. ‘Countdown To Shutdown’ seems like some kind of comment on lockdown but more like something too raucous for The White Stripes. ‘Rigor Mortis Radio’ moves with the swagger of The Kinks – the sultriest track on the album until you get to ‘What Did I Ever Do To You?’; part AM’s ‘Do I Wanna Know?’, part indie club Gnarls Barkley at 3am.
2007’s The Black And White Album saw The Hives branching out – bringing in Pharrell Williams, new wave keys and hip hop beats – but the best thing it left the band with was their biggest crowd pleaser (and a lifetime of TV, film and advert residuals) in ‘Tick Tick Boom’. Here they follow it up with ‘The Bomb’; less a spiritual successor than a statement of intent that we could have easily gotten from anything else on the album. “He a bomb, me a bomb, she a bomb, we a bomb, we’re blowing up tonight!” screams Pelle Almqvist, taking Le Tigre’s ‘Deceptacon’ and running with it.
Pick any of the 12 tracks on The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons and you can hear the sound of a band proving that they’ve got nothing to prove. Maybe they never did? Or maybe they just found it all buried in a Swedish cemetery?