Über The Hives
Not since the Ramones rocketed out of Queens, N.Y., has a band set a land-speed record for blistering, truncated blasts of rock rage, comic irony and pure bombast. The remarkable thing is that the Hives aren't from the dark heart of America, but from the small industrial town of Fagersta, Sweden, where they were raised on a diet of Detroit's infamous rock insurrectionists -- MC5, the Stooges and snotty 1960s garage minimalists like the Pretty Things -- with a heavy dose of '80s New Wave archness. That heady combination proved to be as irresistible as it is seditious, from the band's insistence on wearing only black and white to their early onstage fistfights, which would disintegrate into bouts of bristling chaos and musical mayhem. Formed in 1993 by five high school pals, the Hives didn't have any great vision to become one of the leading lights in garage rock revival, but there they stood at the brink of a burgeoning zeitgeist in their sharp suits, poised to revolutionize the new millennial listening habits along with their like-minded brethren, the White Stripes and the Strokes. What sets them apart is their zany disinformation campaign, from efforts to conceal the fact that band members Howlin' Pelle Almqvist and Nicholaus Arson are brothers to claiming that their career has been masterminded by Randy Fitzsimmons, whom no one has ever laid eyes on (but many have claimed to). Their first full-length CD, Barely Legal, was released in 1997, and was followed by a U.S. tour that garnered them praise from the likes of rabid fans Courtney Love and Ian Astbury and, more important, proved that rock can be dangerous again. They followed that up with A.K.A I-D-I-O-T, a small, prickly jewel of an EP that whetted the ever-growing number of fans' appetite for 1999's Vendi Vidi Vicious, a crowning achievement in aggressive minimalism that ushered the band out of their teens and firmly fixed them in the public eye. The oddly dubbed Tyrannosaurs Hives was released in 2004. A slightly more polished affair than their earlier efforts, the album nonetheless shows these Scandinavian firebrands to be as artistically unruly and only a little less caustic than before.