[No Fun AB; 2012]

It’s been five years since a Hives album managed to come to fruition, but the wait was not spawned because of a lack in band activity. In fact, it was the opposite. The Hives toured their last effort for three years, never really allowing themselves the time to get to the table for new songs. You’d think that after five years and with how confident the members of The Hives are, there would be a noticeable turn in what the band wanted to deliver to fans and listeners.

Wrong. On Lex Hives, they somehow conceive a record that encapsulates their recognizable sound from the quick-paced Tyrannosaurus Hives to The Black and White Album‘s rock-and-radio music variety, but allows room for mild maturity as the band has entered an older musical age of their own–whether it matches up to an album that came out eight long years ago becomes irrelevant.

The Hives, unlike many of their rock peers, know exactly what they’re doing and what they want to do after nearly twenty years of being together. They’re tight knit, a quality that’s tough to maintain after such a long time, and that’s something that definitely hasn’t disappeared from the band. Throughout Lex Hives, you notice each member is on the same exact page, which is perhaps the most admirable and impressive quality to the album–there isn’t a noticeable difference in guitar tones or the way frontman Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist presents himself, he’s still very cocky. While The Hives grasp a lot more from their past than they did with The Black and White Album, they don’t try to reach all the way back to their break-out album Veni Vidi Vicious, and appropriately so. They’re just not that young, “I just turned 21” band anymore and The Hives know that better than any critic.

That awkward, fairly awful sound of songs like “T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S.,” “Puppet on a String,” and “Giddy Up!” from The Black and White Album have gracefully been tossed away, but the blues-rock direction that helped drive a lot of that album is still in full force for much of Lex Hives. “Without The Money” is this 2-minute stint of a track which ends up being minimalist in sound, raw in nature and puts Pelle in a point of weakness and the rest of the band in sonic vulnerability. Two tracks later on “My Time Is Coming,” the blues start to peak and become very self-aware. Everyone in the group is in full force for a chorus ringing the line “Praise the Lord, my time is coming”, words that reflect the point in the band’s career when they can still be looked at reverently as youthful rock-pedalers, but they still have that touch and aren’t ready to let go quite yet.

Even in the midst of moving forward, there are still significant remnants of their fun, speedy punk tracks on here. “1000 Answers” wonderfully sets the band in a mode that sounds totally like Tyrannosaurus Hives, with fast paced drumming and guitar work, and “These Spectacles Reveal The Nostalgics” is another one of those self-aware songs that ironically harkens back to the “good old days” of The Hives in the early 2000s, but it shows that they’re not afraid to give people what they ask for. In fact, the only downward departure that probably could be loathed by a Hives fan is “Wait A Minute,” which sounds like they’re covering The Knack without actually covering The Knack. It’s repetitive and fairly annoying and just doesn’t fit with the rest of an album that spends its time balancing blues and punk rock, but for being the only true blight on the album, The Hives did pretty well.

As a whole, Lex Hives serves the same purpose as just about every Hives album thus far: dance, let yourself go, and have a good time. Their energy is too much for that to not be possible, especially in a live situation. The Hives are simply an impeccable rock album and in an age when we’re focused on how weird Animal Collective’s new album is going to sound, there is a necessity to remind ourselves that traditional rock music can still exist and allow for fun. Lex Hives is not an album that’s meant to display what The Hives think about current-day society–it’s to let you have fun, and the band is pretty open about that through interviews, shows, and their recorded music.