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Askew Review 15

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THE HIVES- The Black and White Album (Site). If I could age the way the Hives have, I’d be one pleased- and possibly Dick Clark-lookin’- mofo. The Black and White Album is the fourth full length release (not counting their awesome best-of compilation Your New Favourite Band) from my favourite Swedish madmen, and I think it’s the finest thing they’ve ever released from start to finish. Their earlier stuff primarily tended to tear the goddamn hell out of shit in the most beautiful fashion, much the way the most delightful people I’ve ever met have done in the bloom of their lovely and psychotic youths. And while this disc proves that the Hives of today haven’t lost their snotty edge and that they can still muscle along with the best of ‘em (“You Got It All…Wrong” and “Tick Tick Boom”), there’s also, dare I say it, a bit of catchy sophistication throughout the CD. “Return The Favour”- one of the best tracks on The Black and White Album- pounds along gloriously yet feels good in the best poppy sense. It’s also impossible not to sing along with. LOUDLY. The likes of “You Dress Up For Armageddon” (another definite standout) and “Well All Right!” swagger and groove along like nobody’s bidness, and they do so without relying on the Hives’ classic trademark speed bag-pounding tempos. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, bonus track “Fall Is Just Something That Grown-Ups Invented” is probably my favorite (favourite) song on this entire release. (Why is it that I’m such a sucker for bonus tracks and B-sides? The two cuts I liked best from their last batch of songs in 2004 were the explosive and twistedly funny B-sides “Genepool Convulsions” and “Keel-Hauling Class of ’89,” which makes me wonder why the fuck they don’t just make these great songs part of the actual album without fucking around and being so coy). “F.I.J.S.T.G-U.I.” closes the disc and is full of hard-to-fault childlike logic, bouncing along relentlessly and bringing this whole age thing I’m going on about (well, sort of- I know it’s actually a flimsy and kind of confusing premise) full circle. Can’t think of a better release in 2007. –Ben Hunter.

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