Mystery is often good for a group. If there's something people can't figure out or find intriguing, they will delve into it until they're hooked. For a mystery to be successful somebody has got to want to solve it and second, there has to be some reward for the journey. The Hives, from Sweden, nailed it on both counts.
The five, Vigilante Carlstroem, Nichlaus Arson, Pelle Almqvist, Matt Destruction and Chris Dangerous (they're real names are probably difficult to spell and impossible to pronounce) were allegedly drawn together in '93 by a person using the pseudonym Randy Fitzsimmons. The Hives, who were in their mid-teens, began working under Fitzsimmons' direction developing a manic garage Rock sound. Soon the group was playing shows in their hometown of Fagersta and creating a lot of excitement.
Two years later the Hives were signed to a subsidiary of the Burning Heart label and released their "Oh Lord! When? How?" debut. That album's success got them moved to Burning Heart for the album "Barely Legal" and follow-up EP "AKA I.D.I.O.T."
The next stop was U.K. label Poptones for the release of "Your New Favorurite Band" which was a compilation of earlier material. "Veni Vidi Vicious" rolled out next with "Main Offender" and "Hate To Say I Told You So."
Questions began percolating as to Fitzsimmons' real identity. British music magazine N.M.E. came to the conclusion, after "intensive investigation," that Fitzsimmons was actually Hives' guitarist Arson. This was vehemently denied by Arson who said Fitzsimmons was a real person who simply wanted to remain anonymous while providing songs and guidance to the group. Whatever. The Hives hit the U.S. with "Veni Vidi Vicious," and replicating their U.K. experience, they scored a major hit with "Hate To Say I Told You So."
The Hives returned in '04 with "Tyrannosaurus Hives." Also that year, the compilation "Your New Favourite Band" landed with tracks spanning the group's career up to "Vidi Veni Vicious."
"The Black And White Album," with the single, "Tick Tick Boom," landed in '07. Prior to the album's release the group began a North American arena tour opening for Maroon 5 and playing headlining gigs, at smaller venues, as their schedule permitted. Unfortunately, "The Black And White Album" sold a meager 54,000 copies. The group released the covers EP "Tarred And Feathered" in '10.
Not surprisingly, The Hives announced that their fifth album, "Lex Hives," would be issued on their own label, Disque Hives. The '12 set consisted of twelve self-produced tracks, with a deluxe version containing bonus songs produced by Queens Of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme. The first single was "Go Right Ahead."
1997 Barely Legal
2000 Veni Vidi Vicious
2004 Tyrannosaurus Hives
2007 The Black And White Album
2012 Lex Hives
With each early outing the Hives are less manic and more accessible. That resulted in consistently rising sales. "Barely Legal" and "AKA I.D.I.O.T." are fierce garage Rock recordings from the thrash and burn school. The guitars cut a swath that is filled by a distorted bass and smash mouth drums. Raving vocals run roughshod over the din. Hard to top that. "Veni Vidi Vicious" is tamer but still has enough grit and good songs to recommend.
After a breakthrough album there's the tendency to analyze what the general public (as opposed to long-time fans/supporters) liked best and focus on that for the next effort. This usually means a hard turn toward the mainstream. Fortunately, the Hives don't go there on "Tyrannosaurus Hives." This album is every bit a raucous, rhythmic and unhinged as its predecessor - probably more so, thanks in no small part to Almquist's recklessly enthused raver vocals. The group also offers smart-mouth Punk humor on songs "Abra Cadaver," "Two-Timing Touch And Broken Bones" and "See Through Head."
The great thing about "The Black And White Album" is the Hives willingness to go over the top, occasionally sounding like vintage Stones jamming with Toni Basil ("Try It Again") or Rick James noodling with the B-52s ("Giddy Up"). They even evoke B-movie spookiness on "A Stroll Through Hive Manor Corridors." Still, when they get down to business they can kick it with the best of them. The album opens with the tight, chord driven single, "Tick Tick Boom." There's no let up of energy or style on "Well All Right!," with the 'whoo-hoo' backing vocals, "Square One Here I Come," and "You Got It All… Wrong." "T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S." and "Dress You Up For Armageddon," change the pace, employing slashing guitars and strident rhythms.