Descending on the global music scene like guitar wielding angels, The Hives remind us of the spirit lifting power of no-frills rock & roll.
And not a moment too soon. With reports of terror and slumping economies topping the news, the world could use a judicious dose of rock & roll frivolity, which The Hives deliver in spades. Though the Swedish quintet has obviously modeled itself after the sharp-dressing garage bands of the mid-'60s, the group has been warmly embraced by the punk-rock cognoscenti. Categories aside, The Hives' volatile fusion of bare-boned rock and snot-nosed attitude has been hailed as a refreshing alternative to the stark realism of nu-metal.
Though The Hives are just now hitting their stride in the U.S., the band has been an underground phenomenon since the 1996 release of their introductory EP, Oh Lord! When? How? But it's The Hives 2000 sophomore album, Veni Vidi Vicious, and its raucous debut single, "Hate To Say I Told You So," that have created a worldwide buzz. The disc was voted the number one album of 2000 by Britain's influential NME magazine, while Time Out magazine employed a list of adjectives to describe the disc: "Something quite special . . . genuinely enigmatic, sexy, exciting, clever and cool."
Time Out's gushy review apparently jibes with the attitudes of many record buyers. The Hives seem to have sparked a garage-rock redux, with emerging acts like The White Stripes and The Vines displaying a similar affection for urgent, fun-filled rock. But it's doubtful that The Hives resent the competition. The band's farcical approach to music and life is evident in the names of its members: vocalist Howlin' Pelle Almqvist, guitarists Chris Dangerous and Vigilante Carlstrom, bassist Nicholaus Arson and drummer Dr. Matt Destruction.
Though The Hives may seem like overnight sensations, their history reaches back nearly 10 years. Formed in the small industrial town of Fagersta, Sweden, The Hives signed to the Europe's Burning Heart Records and released a spate of acclaimed recordings, including a full-length 1997 CD Barely Legal, and a 1998 EP, a.k.a. I-D-I-O-T. These discs set the stage for their 2000 breakthrough effort, Veni Vidi Vicious.
A bidding war accompanied the release of Vini Vidi Vicious, with major labels vying for the honor of distributing and promoting the indie disc. Warner Bros-affiliated Sire Records took home the spoils. Now credited for engineering the garage rock revival, The Hives are poised for universal domination.