Debaser Medis, Stockholm, March 31st
Death, taxes, The Hives. You’ve got to hand it to Fagersta’s five favourite sons: their stubborn resistance to change, an AC/DC-esque determination to make the same record again and again, has placed them on the pedestal of life’s inescapable certainties.
Still, it’s been five long years since the quintet released ‘The Black And White Album’: an aeon in musical terms. They’ll make their return this summer with their fifth LP, ‘Lex Hives’, but when NME sits down with the Swedes before tonight’s tiny ‘secret’ show in Stockholm, they’re oddly dismissive of their half-decade absence.
“The albums don’t come more often than every four years because they need to be good,” shrugs frontman Pelle Almqvist. “A journalist asked us, ‘Why did you make a new record?’ Their theory was that we could just play our old songs and people will turn up no matter what. They thought we might risk that by making a new album!”
However, such is The Hives’ prowess as a live band they could make an entire set of LMFAO covers compulsive viewing. Opening with ‘Come On!’, the upcoming album’s frenzied first track, the band – dressed in matching top hats and tails – own the stage, stagediving and hi-kicking their way through their 2004 single ‘Walk Idiot Walk’ and catchy fresh track ‘Wait A Minute’.
The new songs, inevitably, sound like the old songs, which have held up remarkably well. The tics and tricks of old are all present and correct, too: the mid-song freeze that punctuates set closer ‘Tick Tick Boom’ never gets boring, and though Pelle’s chat is all in Swedish, you don’t need a translator to pick up the comedic arrogance and self-regard that drips from his every word.
“The definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result,” he announces from the stage at one point. Which must make The Hives the sanest men on the planet. A decade after being everyone’s New Favourite Band they’re still one to cherish, for the dumb, brattish fun of it alone.