Growing up in the right niche has The Hives and their like soundtracking your life. Moments synonymous with school summer holidays, The Inbetweeners and all those compartmentalised memories mushed into nostalgia bait for reminiscent Banterbury Twitter accounts. Equivocally popular but not quite remembered, a piece of music whose name rests on the tip of your tongue is what The Hives will always be known for. But their return to long-form studio work with their latest album The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons proves what everyone, deep down, already knows. The Hives are hot property and with tracks as consistent, coercive and clear as these, it is hard not to fall in love with them all over again.
Trust The Hive to continue a form that never truly left them, although they did leave us. Over a decade from their last release, they make an entrance with the booming guitar work on Bogus Operandi. Their revival of the gutter-like garage rock, the feelings of independence and personality blasting on through as though they were still the underground rockers they were all those decades ago. Maintaining this feeling is staggering, but The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons does so with such love for the roots of The Hives’ sound, that it feels intensely natural. Long reign the half-hour albums, a perfect end to a rough day of doubt and fear. The Hives nail what they need to bring to listeners old and new, with one-minute pitstop Trapdoor Solution a harsh explosion right from the Pixies playbook. Lead single Countdown to Shutdown hosts the tenacity and rage bubbling under the surface.
The Hives are not just here to plod around the garage rock roots of old, they are using those foundations to build a sharp and necessary piece of music. Hitting at the easy targets is difficult now standing out is the most important momentum to carry an album. The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons carries itself well. Beyond its cutting momentum, the energy on display is sincere. A real foot tapper for those sat down, an arm-swinging exertion for those on their feet. Stick Up has a smooth push within, the squeeze of the trigger, and the shock and horror expanded on. Repetition confirms the underlying qualities present in the guitar riffs, the marriage between those high-strung moments and the crushing percussion on Smoke & Mirrors is as raw as it gets for The Hives.
Short, sweet and sexy in a way only The Hives can muster with their matching suits and triumphant feel, The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons is a warm return from a band lodged in the minds of millions. You may not know it, you may not like it, but they are in there. Whether you like it or not, The Hives are there, and they push on, further than expected. There are, as The Hives point out, Two Kinds of Trouble. One is the rebellious surge The Hives are part of, not pioneering, but firmly working away, toiling on through a post-punk revolution. On the other hand, is smoke and mirrors. The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons is loud, braggadocious and rightly so, but has no alternative to its theme. It is as it decrees and offers up no doubt in its mind. Confident garage rock-like tunes are hard to come by. Gather these up and settle in for hibernation with The Hives.