Are The Hives a band that people care about? I never really listened to them – I always got them confused with The Vines because they both had singles in the same garage rock revival style that were really popular at the same time, as well as both having five letter names that end in a plural and have a “v” in them. I know they used to be; they were one of the popular bands within that first wave of garage rock, along with The White Stripes, the aforementioned Vines, The Strokes and The Black Keys, but I also haven’t heard from them in a while. The last song I remember from them was 2007’s “Tick Tick Boom”, which is still a fairly cool rock tune.
Anyways, I ask my hypothetical readers because apparently Lex Hives is their first record in five years, and no one really seems to care. I guess the garage rock thing kind of started petering out a couple years ago – The White Stripes continued to evolve and get weirder as Jack White became the only rock savant of the 2000s so far, The Strokes got less and less relevant but also brought indie rock to new heights of popularity, The Vines are apparently still around but are mostly being hated on, and The Black Keys have moved onto their R n’ B thing. Unfortunately, in the time The Hives have been away, they seem to have missed the memo, and so Lux Hives sounds pretty much exactly like everything else they’ve released.
That’s right, kiddies! Once again, you’ll be hearing buzzsaw guitars, howling vocals, and stadium-ready choruses, wrapped up in basic song structures, and rock star posturing. I get what The Hives are doing here; it’s no doubt that this is meant to be a sort of “rock n’ roll revival”, a return to the simplicity and primal ferocity of the rock music of old. This is something that The Hives did successfully at one point, but this late in the game they don’t really have the hooks for it, so instead Lex Hives just comes off as kind of….dumb. It feels calculated and a bit sterile, not at all like the 1-2 punch of intensity that they’re aiming for. For all intents and purposes, Lex Hives is a perfectly serviceable album – it’s fun, brief, and may satisfy some of The Hives’ older fans. But it also comes off as phenomenally lazy, an album devoid of anything resembling the artistic growth that should come after a five-year break. What’s happened to The Hives is probably exactly the opposite of what they wanted – in trying so hard to be rock n’ roll gods, they’ve actually become one of those old rock dinosaurs.