Album: The Hives

Tyrannosaurus Hives, POLYDOR
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The Independent Culture

A conundrum: when brothel-creeper showbands such as Darts and Showaddywaddy trotted out their Teddy-boy pastiches of decades-old rock'n'roll styles, they were rightly derided as bowdlerising the original rockers' work; yet when The Hives grind out their similarly anachronistic pastiches of tired old punk-rock riffage, they are acclaimed as something bright and sparky and new. Beats me, because Tyrannosaurus Hives, for all its terse, brittle guitars and its machine-gun sprays of vocals, sounds about as moribund and lifeless as music gets. Musical excitement generally depends on dynamics: contrast, timing and transgression - three things completely absent from this album. There's consequently no sense of light and shade about these 12 songs. Everything seems to evince exactly the same degree of quasi-hysterical squawking, whether they're singing about a "Diabolic Scheme", a "See Through Head", or "Love in Plaster". It's all empty, and even though it lasts only a few seconds more than half an hour

A conundrum: when brothel-creeper showbands such as Darts and Showaddywaddy trotted out their Teddy-boy pastiches of decades-old rock'n'roll styles, they were rightly derided as bowdlerising the original rockers' work; yet when The Hives grind out their similarly anachronistic pastiches of tired old punk-rock riffage, they are acclaimed as something bright and sparky and new. Beats me, because Tyrannosaurus Hives, for all its terse, brittle guitars and its machine-gun sprays of vocals, sounds about as moribund and lifeless as music gets. Musical excitement generally depends on dynamics: contrast, timing and transgression - three things completely absent from this album. There's consequently no sense of light and shade about these 12 songs. Everything seems to evince exactly the same degree of quasi-hysterical squawking, whether they're singing about a "Diabolic Scheme", a "See Through Head", or "Love in Plaster". It's all empty, and even though it lasts only a few seconds more than half an hour, it seems like an eternity with the CD player accidentally set to "Repeat". The most inventive these Swedish copyists get is the use of strings on "Diabolic Scheme", hardly a breakthrough innovation, but an extraordinary aberration in the context of the album as a whole.

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