Posts Tagged Punk

Please do not adjust your set

Cartoon Network present The Hives. No, they really do.


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Mad men

I’m not sure there’s anything massively original or unique about The Hives, whether it’s their cartoonish character names, their heavily stylised looks, or the lead singer’s Mick Jagger mannerisms.

But instead of being a loose collection of dull clichés, they pitch their monochrome image, their furious, thrashy sound, and their tongue-in.cheek/so-serious-it-hurts anti-establishment lyrics in just the right way to create something loud, funny, and brilliantly, strangely joyful.

The songs are both throwaway and long-lasting, the titles alone – Die, All Right!; A.K.A I-D-I-O-T; The Hives Are Law, You Are Crime; Dead Quote Olympics – demanding attention.

They also have an interestingly contrived back story; namely that a recluse, Randy Fitzsimmons, summoned all five of them individually by letter to form the band, subsequently writing their songs for them and remaining behind the scenes. The inconvenient fact that ‘Randy Fitzsimmons’ is an officially-registered pseudonym of Nicholaus Arson’s is (a) just a means for Arson to collect Fitzsimmons’ royalty cheques on his behalf (of course), and/or (b) ignoring the fact that Arson probably isn’t his family name in the first place, and/or (c) taking all this far too seriously.

And so Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist screams his way through a range of generally disenfranchised, occasionally unintelligible lyrics (mangling their delivery as required: “This time you really got something, it’s such a clever idea / But it doesn’t mean it’s good because you found it at the liba-ra-ria), almost unfailingly backed by machine gun percussion and jackhammer guitars.

Making records sporadically since the mid-90s, they came to prominence in the very early 2000s, chiefly with Hate To Say I Told You So, Main Offenderand 2004’s Walk Idiot Walk.

Other songs to lock yourself in a small room with and listen loudly to are Diabolic Scheme (with its jarring, discordant strings), Antidote (“You want antidote / I got the poison” seeming to sum them up pretty well), Tick Tick Boom, and Abra Cadaver: I initially mis-heard the lyrics as “They tried to stick-a Dave Bowie inside-a me”, which I thought was taking the Jagger thing a bit too far.

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Now here’s a thing. I stumbled across the 1977 album ‘Pink Flag’ by Wire more or less by accident, and find it something of a curate’s egg, but the good parts are frighteningly good. The album places itself somewhere on the punk/rock/post-punk bit of the pigeon-holing spectrum, but I’ll not pretend to understand the nuances, if indeed there are any. Safe to say it’s easy to see its influence in a lot of the wall-to-wall Britpop of my teenage years.

Reuters, the dark, brooding opening track, is a tale of a lawless, nightmarish land, with “looting, burning, raaape” being the closest thing to a chorus. It’s genuinely brilliant.

So is Field Days For The Sundays, a desperate plea for tabloid infamy achieving more in 28 seconds than many bands do in a lifetime, and so too Three Girl Rhumba (cunningly re-released using a different song title and band name in 1995).

Switching quickly to the end of the album, Feeling Called Love seems incongruous in between the enjoyably, mysteriously bleak Champs (which somehow ends just as it seems ready to really begin) and 1 2 X U (which has a charming bit of studio vocal in the intro).

There’s so much to love on this album, its incredible immediacy, its rawness, the fact that it doesn’t really matter than the middle of the album loses its way, but probably most of all, Mannequin.

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