Wednesday 22 November 2017

A masterpiece snuck out while cool kids looked away

John Meagher

John Meagher

the hives

Lex Hives

(Sony)

HHHHI

It's been a while since Sweden's leading garage rock revivalists troubled the charts, but this smartly crafted album should get them noticed once more.

Their template is still largely the same -- riffs, yelps and cast- iron choruses -- although there are subtle signs that their palate is widening.

As before, much of the band's appeal centres on the hyperactive frontman Howlin' Pelle Almqvist, who kicks up an almighty racket on the giddy, addictively catchy Go Right Ahead.

The song is a study in brevity and economy -- with each constituent part trimmed of extraneous fat.

It offers a reminder that this most stylised of bands know their way around a damn fine tune.

And Lex Hives is full of such inspired songs: Without the Money sounds like it's been discovered in a vault marked "1956"; I Want More revels in a glam, T.Rex-like swagger, while These Spectacles Reveal the Nostalgics is a power-pop delight in the vein of Weezer.

Garage rock may not be in vogue like it was 10 years ago, when Howlin' Pelle and friends were at the peak of their popularity.

Yet here the band have delivered their best, most consistently effective album when the cool kids weren't looking.

Surprise yourself.

KEY TRACKS Go Right Ahead; I Want More

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