The Hives - The Black and White Album
Tim Miller 27/12/2007
If you're struggling for an album name, you can always whack a random colour in between 'The…Album' as a safe bet. Options are increased almost infinitely by choosing to stick more than one colour in there, and The Hives decide to reference Jay-Z and The Beatles' genre-defining colour-based albums respectively for their third LP.
The Hives' excitable brand of straight up rock 'n' roll, however, is not as clear cut as black and white. While they can always be counted on for an irresistibly catchy guitar-driven single or two, their previous two albums have been rather patchy affairs. And, unsurprisingly - to me at least - this third album proper, three years on from their major label debut Tyrannosaurus Hives, proves to suffer the same fate. Unimaginative song titles continue the theme: Tick Tick Boom, Giddy Up! and Well All Right! are guilty of being both silly and punctuated unnecessarily. Perhaps it was lost in translation.
The songs themselves offer little that is off the beaten track that The Hives' career has trodden to date. Tick Tick Boom, Hey Little World and You Got It All Wrong are all (admittedly decent) examples of the frenetic beats, crunchy guitar riffs and boisterous vocals that made Hate To Say I Told You So the breakthrough smash it was, while the band's unrestrained rowdiness is at its best on tracks on the riotous Return The Favour and Square One Here I Come.
It's all a bit samey though; Pelle Almqvist's scratchy yodel soon tires once the fifteen (yep, fifteen) songs have run their course, backed up sparingly by shouty harmonies, and whoops and yells during the bouncy sing-along sections. Unfortunately, when the band tone down their double-edged guitar attack a little, it is only for the self-indulgent A Stroll Through The Hive Manor Corridors and T.H.E.H.I.V.ES: the former a soundtrack to a Disneyland Haunted House, the latter a frankly atrocious Prince pastiche.
Kudos must be given for The Hives' insatiable energy, and several of the songs are great fun, a goofy and overexcited band just having a good time throughout. But by the end of this overlong third album, the party's over. Fans of this danceable rock 'n' roll might rediscover their new favourite band for a while, but if this second honeymoon period ends sourly, I hate to say I told you so.
Released 15th October 2007