|The Hives - Veni Vidi Vicious|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Dan MacIntosh|
|Tuesday, 30 April 2002|
The Hives come off like hyperactive kids with way too much energy to ever get to sleep at bedtime. The aptly named vocalist Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist leads this Swedish quintet through a blustery hurricane of garage rock that never lets up, and one that just might just leave you with an incurably severe case of heart palpitations.
This rhythm guitar, bass, drums (and sometimes just a touch of keyboard) combo may appear like they’re trying to sound political, with such song titles as “The Hives – Declare Guerre Nucleaire,” or smart with tune names like “The Hives – Introduce The Metric System In Time,” but this is actually fairly primal stuff. “Work, eat, play then go to sleep that won’t get me satisfaction,” are words Almqvist spits out on “The Hives – Introduce The Metric System In Time.” They’re not all that different from the frustrated sentiments The Rolling Stones also semi-eloquently expressed through “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” in the ‘60s. So, far from having any sociological/political agenda, these Hives are mostly concerned with meeting immediate human survival needs.
On the lumbering swing that drives “Main Offender,” Almqvist sums up The Hives’ perspective well with these words: “Can’t settle down/I’m stuck in ways of sadistic joy and my talent only goes as far as to annoy.” Almqvist may be pugnacious – and yes, sometimes annoying -- but he and his bandmates also really know how to rock. This is noisy and simplistic stuff, but it’s also refreshing to hear somebody shredding their lungs to better party, instead of doing so for the sole purpose of whining about a troubled early life. Instead of complaining about childhood, The Hives seem like they’re reliving theirs by creating the aural equivalent of a food fight.
Musical references, if you’re looking for the stylistic path that brought The Hives up to this point, lead back to Nugget-era garage rock. “The Hives – Introduce The Metric System In Time,” for example, almost sounds like a remake of “Talk Talk” by Music Machine.
“Statecontrol” is snotty call and response, with such amoral lyrical lines as, “I’m gonna lie/I’m gonna cheat.” “Inspection Wise 1999” has an almost Cars-like herky-jerky-ness underpinning it, and “Supply And Demand” is a nasty sounding guitar workout. “Find Another Girl” stands out distinctly from this mostly thuggish bunch of songs due to its pseudo-Latin feel. It may remind one of a Sam Cooke nightclub number, except this take includes a healthy portion of cheesy synth support, instead of real live strings.
Best of all, this is an album in the true spirit of punk. And if it doesn’t make you pogo around your living room in your undies, you’re probably already dead.