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The Hives - Tyrannosaurus Hives Print E-mail
Tuesday, 20 July 2004

The Hives

Tyrannosaurus Hives
format: 16-bit Stereo CD
label: Interscope Records
release year: 2004
performance: 8
sound 8
reviewed by: Dan MacIntosh

Image “Walk Idiot Walk” is such a wonderfully catchy first single from The Hives’ “Tyrannosaurus Hives” album, almost everything else on the disc pales in comparison to it -- at least after the first few listens. This recording is, as they say, a grower. And while it would be mean-spirited to wish for the growth of actual hives on other human beings, it’s nevertheless recommended that listeners give this subtly varying album (of Hives music) time to grow on them. Just trust me on this one.
After only the first few spins, this T-Rex-ian-titled album sounds disappointingly like a series of indistinctive punk rock rants, characterized by Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist’s ever-present screaming lead vocals. While this Hives front man sure does over-emote consistently throughout, he also has more than just one speed at his disposal. For instance, “Diabolic Scheme” sounds like a ‘50s ballad, or at least something spooky/romantic by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. On “A Little More for Little You,” the track cracks along with a semi-Motown beat. Another highlight is “Love in Plaster,” which is Clash-like – of all things -- with its scratched guitar (a la “Should I Stay Or Should I Go”). Such subtle layers are revealed slowly, but nevertheless eventually surface, if given enough time. You just need to give it a little room to breathe, people.

Almqvist’s general mood here seems to be one of utter disgust with the world’s overabundance of mental midgets. Such a look-down-the-nose point of view is expressed in “Walk Idiot Walk,” as well as with “See Through Head.” But The Hives are, after all, Sweden’s greatest garage rock export, so such a snotty attitude is almost to be expected. On the aural level, noisy little numbers like “Two-Timing Touch and Broken Bones” and “B Is for Brutus” underline the underlying crushing sonic feel throughout.

Oddly enough, this album’s punkish musical majority helps to make “Walk Idiot Walk” such a contrasting thing of beauty. The group has said in print that it was influenced by such artistic nerds as Devo and Kraftwerk during the recording of this album, but such an overtly mechanical approach is only hinted at with this one herky-jerky little number. A whole album of such unexpected experimentation would have made for an even better album, but one supposes such a bold move was just not to be.

It’s simply unfair to judge an album by what it’s not, though. And while Tyrannosaurus Hives mainly sticks with what’s safe, tried and true, it’s a formula that nonetheless works successfully. Besides, few other bands today are coming up with these same kinds of big and clumsy Cheap Trick guitar riffs, such as the one that helps fuel “B Is for Brutus.” The lyric to “Walk Idiot Walk” even suggests that these Hives have a few political beefs to get off their chests.

However, for the most part, this release is more about big ‘n’ beefy rock music, instead of meaty party politics, which is just the way The Hives like it.

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