The Hives

Your New Favourite Band

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It's easy to fall into the trap of blaming the band for the marketing; while Sweden's Hives have been turning out unhinged, purebred garage punk since 1997, it was only in the climate of 2002 -- and a spate of newly hyped return-to-rock bands like the Strokes and the White Stripes -- that they emerged as critical darlings. While not even their first U.S. release, Your New Favourite Band (the cheeky title isn't doing them any good either) is a well-timed and well-chosen introduction to the band. It collects four tracks each from the two Hives full-lengths (1997's Barely Legal and 2000's Veni Vidi Vicious), plus four more from their EP work. They're neither as disciplined as the Strokes nor as faithful to music tradition as the White Stripes, though these facts do much to lift them above both bands. Hives songs are short, uneven blasts of pure aggro, barely controlled but occasionally played with a few subtleties intact. Nothing they play sounds particularly new, their inheritors extending from the Stooges to Buzzcocks to Minor Threat (American hardcore is a big influence) and even Ash. Still, the Hives break right through all the marketing hype because they never sound contrived or poised. Lead singer Howlin' Pelle Almqvist must surely be foaming at the mouth as he delivers the largely incoherent middle section on "Untutored Youth," and the group sounds refreshingly innocent bashing out "Supply and Demand," "Mad Man," and "Hate to Say I Told You So." [In 2004, Interscope Records issued Your New Favourite Band with a bonus DVD featuring the videos for "Hate to Say I Told You So," "Main Offender," and "Die, All Right!"]

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