Hives Buzz in ‘Black and White’

Compared to the usual dreamy indie pop sound common to many Scandanavian bands, Swedish band the Hives stick out like a sore thumb. Having made their debut in 1993 while still in their teens, the Hives have a reputation for being loud, rowdy and proud of it. They have traveled a long way from being just another punky lo-fi garage band, and ‘The Black and White Album’ is a perfect example of the band’s evolution and versatility.
The album kicks off with a bang with the catchy tracks, ‘Tick Tick Boom’ and ‘Try It Again,’ both of which are sure to become radio hits. The Hives use the traditional punk musical pattern of layering melodic and catchy guitar riffs with hard, fast percussion, but both songs employ a more polished structure along with rhythmic variation to create a more modern sound.
‘You Got It All … Wrong’ and ‘Return the Favour’ harken back to The Hives’ punk rock roots. Percussion on the drums is heavy, and the customary screaming/singing style is complemented by a merry chorus of ‘ohs.’
Some songs, however, have a completely different and new approach that is a fresh change from their usual lineup. ‘Well All Right!’ combines a slower, softer rock sound with a jazzy/swing influence complete with half-spoken lyrics and a chorus chanting the title in rhythm.
However, not all of the Hives’ new styles mesh. Both the instrumental ‘A Stroll Through Hive Manor’ and ‘Puppet on a String’ have a slow, lulling rhythm and bass with a synthy keyboard beating out melodies straight out of a cheesy 1970s horror flick. ‘Giddy Up’ takes a new approach to the genre by sporting a more electronic sound, using a throbbing bass with electronic accents to create a simple monotonous backdrop for rather outlandish and irregular lyrics that jump across octaves within a single line.
Even after nearly 15 years, the Hives show that they have what it takes to create good solid music. ‘Won’t Be Long’ deserves particular mention for its expert use of catchy guitar and keyboard harmonies combined with a rhythm that will make you want to jump up and dance to the beat.
However, although the Hives have obviously taken the initiative to branch out into new styles and forms, the result unfortunately sounds like a mixtape I might have made in junior high