The Hives – The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons
Swedish Rock titans The Hives are back with The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons. Their first studio album in over a decade is a punchy, barre-chord-laden collection of angsty, performance-ready rock and roll.
Bogus Operandi, the album’s opener and first single, kicks in with the screeching of an amp and fuzzed-out guitars. Pumped-up guitar threads spill over and whir out, and the snapping drum fills from Christian Grahn (otherwise referred to in Hives lore by his stage name “Chris Dangerous”) become progressively looser as the track goes on. It’s a weighty start, with some riotous riffage and snarling vocals that could easily fit within their earlier body of work. For anyone who might have expected the Hives to up-sticks and buck the trend of their previous output, this should be a good indication to the contrary.
The record continues with Trapdoor Solution – a punky, high-tempo entry designed with moshes in mind that clocks in at just over a minute – and Countdown to Solution, a rugged, rapid-firing track split between the head-bang-inducing rolling-bass hook and the sudden attack of clattering riff-rock at the chorus. At times, however, tracks like Rigor Mortis Radio and Two Kinds of Trouble are often indistinguishable from one another, and struggle to cut through the mix, instead just keeping the ball rolling.
What Did I Ever Do To You – the album’s greatest departure from the group’s usual power-chord fuelled sound – is a seedier track that flips The Hives formula on its head, with an infectious lo-fi guitar-hook reminiscent of their touring partners The Arctic Monkeys’s AM era, underscored with some tick-tacky digital percussive note and echoey, chanting vocals that are a far cry from the signature howl we have come to expect from vocalist Pelle Almquist. It’s simpler, more stripped back and economic, and by the time they hit us with the bridge we know exactly what we are building towards – but that doesn’t make the sudden blaring drop of meaty, overdriven guitar chords and kick drums any less compelling.
It has been over 20 years since The Hives burst onto the rock scene with their biggest hit Hate to Say I Told You So – but that’s not to say that the group have lost any of their edge. In fact, they seem almost resilient to change, and The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons is an open, unapologetic statement to that fact. “Howlin” Pelle Almquist’s vocals are as ferocious as ever, their guitar work is muscular and taut, and it is all pulled together with some tight percussion, fat-saturated bass hooks and big doses of blustery distortion. A stellar return for the garage-rock veterans.
Image: Bisse Bengtsson
The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons is released on 11th August 2023. For further information or to order the album visit The Hives’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Countdown to Shutdown here: