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The Hives spread the Swedish, ABBA-spurning garage rock gospel

Wednesday, Nov 28 2001
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The Hives' speedy, three-chord garage rock explodes with the intensity of a heart attack. The Swedish five-piece races through songs as if pursued, sped onward by a drummer who smacks his kit like he's raging at the thing. Meanwhile, frontman Howlin' Pelle Almqvist lives up to his name, screaming, whining, and yelping like a brat who expects to get his way.

The essence of the Hives, though, is that the band lives in a world where it does get its way. The group's charm comes from never having to apologize, whether Almqvist's selling out to a CEO ("Die, All Right"), axing the chips off his shoulder ("Hate to Say I Told You So"), or declaring war ("Had an atomic bore in 2004/ Did some atomic tricks in 2006/ Go out way late in 2008/ I'm gonna do it again in 2010"). His lyrics can be a ramble of ideas that become illogical at times ("I had a tension/ I had a 10/ I was a better honey/ So I did it again"), but they're delivered with enough rabid energy to resonate.

While the band has been prolific since its 1996 mini-album debut Oh Lord When? How? -- releasing two stellar LPs and three EPs since -- the act has never played on American soil. In Europe, however, the Hives are known for their live concerts, which reportedly pack an even bigger adrenaline rush than the group's discs. Wearing matching black-and-white ascots and ties, the Hives often kick off shows with the announcement, "We are your new favorite band." Perhaps after this show, the fervor for these boisterous punks will spread faster than the skin condition they're named after

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Jennifer Maerz

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