LOS ANGELES Swedish garage rock band The Hives put their hardest rock'n'roll effort into their latest studio album following their last record five years ago which harnessed urban music influences.
The new record, titled "Lex Hives" because the album "is the law of the Hives" according to bandmember Nicholaus Arson, follows "The Black And White Album" (2007). It took The Hives about two years to pull together as they struggled to find a sound that returned them to their garage rock roots from the hip hop-influenced previous effort.
"It's sort of timeless, what we do as a band," lead singer Howlin' Pelle Almqvist told Reuters. "We want to be one of those bands that withstands the tide of change in the industry."
Formed in 1993 in Fagersta, Sweden, The Hives consists of Almqvist, his brother Arson and Vigilante Carlstroem on guitar, bassist Dr. Matt Destruction and drummer Chris Dangerous.
The band first gained popularity during the garage rock resurgence of the early 2000s that gave way to bands like "The White Stripes," but The Hives changed tracks and experimented with new sounds on their last record, working with R&B producers Timbaland and The Neptunes.
For their fifth studio album, released earlier this month, The Hives went back to their roots, which is showcased on the energetic opening track "Come On!," as well as the blues-rock track "I Want More" and the anthem-like tune, "These Spectacles Reveal The Nostalgics."
"We were really more interested in making a classic record. We wanted it to be like it could have been recorded at any point in the last forty years, whereas our last record was more like our attempt at being modern," said Almqvist.
The band compiled the entire album themselves from "plugging in the guitar" to "arranging the songs and engineering."
The frontman's personal favorites on the album are "Patrolling Days" for its "epic quality" and "Midnight Shifter," which reinvents energetic soul music from 1960s America.
Reviews have been generally favorable with the album earning 70 out of 100 on review aggregator site MetaCritic.com.
Rolling Stone's Chuck Eddy gave "Lex Hives" three out of five stars, saying the band "lose steam at times, but by the LP's end, their toga party is back pogoing and the neighbors are knocking." Hamish McBain at music publication NME gave the album an eight out of 10 rating, calling the album "amazing.
DECADE OF GARAGE ROCK
The band embraced garage rock and punk for their debut album in 1997, "Barely Legal," following it up with 2000's "Veni Vidi Vicious," both of which achieved moderate success.
Their 2001 'best-of' album, "Your New Favourite Band," launched The Hives onto mainstream charts, led by their singles "Hate To Say I Told You So" and "Main Offender."
More than a decade on, the band has an extensive touring schedule in both Europe and the United States, and while some industry watchers say rock is giving way to the popularity of electronica and dance music among younger fans, Almqvist believes the opposite.
"Rock 'n' roll seems to be doing pretty damn great ... I don't really feel like it's struggling. There's definitely enough of an audience," Almqvist said
The Swedish rockers are known for their on stage antics while clad in black suits and ties, led by Almqvist, who combines hyper energy and scissor kicks with provocative comments to the audience.
The lead singer said that while he doesn't plan his live performance stunts, he's been perfecting the persona of Howlin' Pelle since the age of eight, when he decided he wanted to be a rock band frontman.
"One New Year's Eve, we were watching television, and there was a live performance by James Brown and The Who. Those two performers were pretty much where I got my stage groove. They're all you need," said Almqvist, referring to Brown and the antics of Who bandmates Pete Townsend and Keith Moon.
(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy, editing by Jill Serjeant and Alden Bentley)