The Hives are a meticulously conceived Swedish rock 'n' roll cartoon, but it's their perverse streak that really sets them apart. How else to explain the two pudgy Sopranos rejects - guitarist Vigilante Carlstroem and balding bassist Dr. Matt Destruction - who sneaked into this exclusive party? How else to explain the way lead singer Howlin' Pelle Almqvist, for all his stylistic debts to Mick Jagger and Iggy Pop, resembles no one so much as Malcolm McDowell's sadistic droog in A Clockwork Orange?
Although the band rode into America's consciousness via the infamous garage-rock scare of 2002 - which literally revived their two-year-old album Veni Vidi Vicious - the new Tyrannosaurus Hives reveals them to be an amalgam of every thin, sharp, and fast brand of rock: from the Buzzcocks to the Stooges to the Modern Lovers to early Devo.
All this classic sass would mean little if the Hives didn't rock with such lightfooted propulsion, making even the blatant "Stepping Stone" cop of "Two-Timing Touch And Broken Bones" feel like a fresh burst of euphoria. Even when they're intentionally mechanical and robotic - as on the new-wavey single "Walk Idiot Walk" - the Hives feel like the fastest machine on the track. •