It's clear that a lot care goes into the Hives' seemingly immediate, fired-up sound: this is a band, after all, that has only released three full-length albums in its 11-year lifespan. While the 2002 collection Your New Favourite Band ended up winning the group many more fans thanks to its fortuitous timing with the garage rock revival craze (and also ended up being the band's most consistent release to date), it didn't do much to disguise the fact that the Hives hadn't released a new album since 2000's Veni Vidi Vicious. Two years later, Tyrannosaurus Hives arrives, and proves that the band isn't just a fossil from the days when everyone (or critics, at least) thought that the Hives and the other bands lumped in with the rock revival were going to change the face of pop music. It may have taken the Hives awhile to follow up Veni Vidi Vicious, but they didn't waste any time: Tyrannosaurus Hives is half an hour of highly compressed, high-contrast rock that is far and away the band's best album. As usual, the band's motto seems to be "get in, rock hard, get out," and the album's opening tracks, "Abra Cadaver" and "Two-Timing Touch and Broken Bones" -- which boasts a chord sequence that sounds like a sped-up version of Paul Revere & the Raiders classic antidrug rant "Kicks" -- cut right to the chase. But, as with the rest of Tyrannosaurus Hives, these songs are more focused explosions than the nonstop firepower of "Hate to Say I Told You So" and "Main Offender." While recording the album, the Hives mentioned that they were especially inspired by Kraftwerk. Even though nothing here sounds like "Pocket Calculator" and the band hasn't forsaken its black-and-white dress code for Teutonic black and red, that band's influence is indeed all over Tyrannosaurus Hives, most literally on the breakup lament "Love in Plaster," which borrows a motorik beat and squiggly keyboards. More importantly, though, it's noticeable in the band's precise playing throughout the album and particularly on the single "Walk Idiot Walk," which initially sounds downright subdued compared to the Hives' previous singles, but eventually reveals itself as just a more elongated and tense deployment of their forces. Fortunately, this tightly engineered sound doesn't get hamper the band's energy; if anything, it offers a better platform for Pelle Almqvist's howling, especially on "No Pun Intended" and "Dead Quote Olympics." The refinement of the Hives' sound shows up in other ways, such as the excellent new wave soul rave-up "A Little More for Little You" and "Diabolic Scheme"' string-laden wails. Tyrannosaurus Hives might be a little more complex and polished than the Hives' earlier work, but it's not overthought at all; even though they've evolved, they know how to keep it simple, stupid. Crucially, the band remembers that garage rock is supposed to be catchy as hell as well as cleverly dumb, and even their toughest songs have hooks aplenty: "B Is for Brutus" has wonderfully prickly, reverb-drenched guitars and impatient pianos egging it on, and "See Through Head"'s silly "uh-uh-uh-uh-oh!" refrain just adds to its caustic charm. Songs like these once again prove how neutered-sounding most mainstream punk-pop (and indeed, quite a bit of nu-garage rock) really is. But the Hives lead by example; they were going before garage rock became a fad, and Tyrannosaurus Hives shows that they'll be able to keep going long after the fad has faded.
Tyrannosaurus Hives Review
by Heather Phares