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Issue: March 2008

Broadening the Appeal

The Black and White Album (A&M Records)
The Hives

My wife listened to a few songs on the new Hives album and said, "It's not bad." That may not sound like a slobbering endorsement, but considering the fact she usually rocks out to Norah Jones, it's a testament to the Hives' far-reaching appeal.

They seem to be about the only band that has survived the neo-garage-band onslaught of a few years back (The Strokes and the Vines have fallen off the map) and those who've stuck with the Hives are rewarded with their most ambitious and frenetic album yet. They've pulled in big names - include hip-hopper Pharrell Williams - to help produce while not letting go of the energetic core sound that put them on the map.

While the vocals and the beats both add fuel to the machine, it's the band's attitude that truly drives the bus. For example, the working title for this effort was The World's First Perfect Album. While it doesn't quite live up to that name, it's not too far from it. Except for a throwaway instrumental interlude, each song is a floor-thumping rocker, with lead singer Howlin' Pelle Almqvist doing his best Mick Jagger-Iggy Pop smashup on songs like "Square One Here I Come" and the first single, "Tick Tick Boom."

Not everything here is classic - "Puppet on a String" feels like a reach and "Giddy Up" is too ballsy - but most of The Black and White Albumfurthers The Hives' reputation as the saviors of rock music.

Catch the Hives at www.thehives.nu.

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