By: Eric Greenwood
Overlooking the questionable fashion sense and the awful cartoon cover art, Tyrannosaurus Hives moves Sweden's The Hives above and beyond the throwback garage rock revivalism that threatens to suck them into utter obsolescence the very moment the fad wanes, even though, to their credit, The Hives had been cranking out noisy garage pop well prior to the explosion of The White Stripes two years ago.
Enigmatically espousing the gospel of Kraftwerk by way of Martin Hannett-style production and clanging guitars on their third album, The Hives offer their slickest and most complex musical statement to date. Granted, complexity in The Hives' world isn't exactly saying much, but the precision with which these herky-jerky pop songs are played is absolutely staggering. The syncopated beats are so quick and steady that they sound programmed. Much akin to mid-period Devo (minus the predetermined suck factor), The Hives' propulsive, polyrhythmic outbursts are so packed with hooks and catchy choruses that you can't help but overlook the schtick and give in to the raucous delight.
Vocalist Pelle Almqvist's scratchy shriek occasionally morphs into an unrecognizable singing voice that still manages a punch, even when it sounds dreadfully monotone and off-key. Lyrically, The Hives have no real story to tell, but the name of the game has never been substance. The Hives are entertainers, not philosophers. Even though "Walk Idiot Walk" is purportedly a stab at America's right wing, the song offers barely any semblance of insight, much less meaning. (On a side note: the production sounds identical to Joy Division's "Glass." It's uncanny, especially the bass and drums). The rest of the album follows a similarly frivolous course.
Tyrannosaurus Hives is chock full of potential singles, though. The band is never short on clever choruses or memorable riffs. Whether The Hives can shake the garage rock tag is another story, but it'd be a lazy beyond reason to call any of this garage. Staying true to its short is punk ethos, every song is jam-packed and designed to get in as many jabs in the shortest amount of time possible. It's certainly a dramatic departure from anything on Barely Legal or Veni Vedi Vicious, and proves that The Hives are from the one trick pony everyone expected them to be.