It’s been five years since Swedish band the Hives last released an album and more than twice that long since the garage rock revival they rode in on, the one powered by bands like the Strokes and the Vines, was at its height.
Most of their peers have fallen apart or evolved, neither of which seem like possibilities for the Hives, who are only good at one thing: nattily decked-out garage punk, played by five improbably cheerful guys who, it’s a safe bet, have only ever entered a garage to park their Volvos.
Hives albums all till the same soil, and “Lex Hives” is thankfully no exception: It’s loud, frantic, fun, dumb/smart, with little quarter given to outside forces or trends. (Certain songs on the Hives’ last album, “The Black and White Album,” contained what might be considered a hip-hop beat. “Lex Hives” does not repeat this mistake.)
There’s a glam-influenced stomper (“Go Right Ahead”), any number of songs built on the backs of AC/DC dinosaur riffs and a great middle section of soundalike songs (“Take Back the Toys,” etc.). But “Lex Hives” does little to dispel the impression (which has been around as long as the Hives have) that the bandmates are normal, reasonable folks dressed up as mouth-breathing punk rockers. The top hats and tails they wear on the album’s cover don’t help.
“Lex Hives” opens with “Come On!” which features the Hives yelling “Come On!” for about a minute. It’s everything that’s good and occasionally not so good about the Hives condensed into 68 seconds: It’s punchy and gleeful, it’s ridiculously enjoyable despite being not so well thought out, maybe, and it goes on just slightly longer than it should.