November 22, 2007

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The Hives, The Black and White Album
A&M/Octone Records, Nov. 13
You can tell the economy’s getting slammed when the bulk of new album releases are of the caliber that make people blurt out things like “Best record ever!” or, more usually, “they’re back to their roots.” The Hives’ new full-length is a little of both; the band was never big on loading up their albums with impossibly good material, and nothing’s changed in that regard, but they did haul out some big producers in Dennis Herring, Pharrel Williams and Jacknife Lee. “Tick Tick Boom” is an in-your-face, danceable, loud indie-rock no-brainer that’d be great for important TV commercials if nothing else. In post-wave hip-hop-jazzer “T H E H I V E S” (one of Pharrell’s assignments) they shoot their what-me-worry hubris to the moon, sing-songing “We rule the world” as though the sentiment were common knowledge. This leads directly into the MxPx-like old-timer Cali-punk of “The Favour,” a throwaway that probably took all of three minutes to write, yes, but with its boombox-quality guitars and purity of heart it’s too authentic for radio. What? Yes, that’s supposed to be a good thing. C+ Eric W. Saeger