The Hives are one of the most energetic bands around and now they have quite a few albums under their belt. But it’s their 2000 release that brought them to American waters. While it’s not perfect, the album is still ambitious and a lot of fun to listen to. It has some of their most memorable songs and a lot of other tracks that make you want to get up and dance. Otherwise, it’s a pretty typical garage rock album that while good, gets a little tiring after awhile.
The opening track “The Hives – Declare Guerre Nucleaire” introduces the listener to what they’ll find on the record: a ton of energy, an intense garage rock sound, and a classic rock n roll vibe with a hint of surf rock. Though the track is only a minute and it’s difficult to decipher what the song is about, it’s still a great way to start off the album. It also shows off their witty songwriting. Here they do a clever mix of throwing in numbers with the lyrics to a catchy effect: “Had an atomic bore – in 2004/Did some atomic tricks – in 2006/Got out way late – in 2008/Let’s do it all again – in 2010.” It’s a pretty simple technique, but it definitely makes the song stand out.
You can find that same energy and vintage garage rock vibe in all the songs that follow. “Die! All Right” has a great guitar riff with a memorable chorus of “Iiiiiiiii am gonna diieeeee,” while “A Get Together to Tear it Apart” begins with a rolling drumbeat before its blazing pace of fast talking and speeding guitars takes over. One of the best songs here and the one that gave them mainstream success is “Hate To Say I Told You So.” It begins with this luring guitar riff that sounds like something from a 60’s rock song before Howlin’ Pelle sings “Do what I want cause I can and if I don’t because I wanna/ be ignored by the stiff and the bored/because I’m gonna.” The chorus of “Hate to say I told you so/do believe I told you so” introduces this smart ass, bratty theme that seems to be running throughout the album.
As mentioned earlier, while all the songs on the album are fun and enjoyable, halfway through they begin sounding the same as they all have the similar sounding guitar riffs and formats. Unless you pay really close attention, it’s hard to tell the difference between “The Hives – Introduce The Metric System in Time” and “Inspection Wise 1999.” Unlike their later albums, they don’t seem to stray too far away from their garage rock roots. But the one song that sounds like none of the others here is the cover of the Jerry Butler hit “Find Another Girl.”
It seems that the band wanted to keep the vibe of the original because it sounds like it’s straight from the 60’s. Also, unlike the other songs here, this one is mellow and calming like it’s allowing the listener to take a break from all the energy and allow them to catch their breath. Even though it sticks out from the other tracks here, it’s still one of the best songs. It also shows how the band weren’t afraid to go beyond what they were familiar with, which we see on their later albums where they experiment with different genres.
As mentioned earlier, a lot of the songs have this bratty attitude to them. “Statecontrol” has the line “I’m gonna lie I’m gonna cheat./I’m gonna follow their lead then skip a beat. I’m gonna lie,/I’m gonna cheat,” which implies that this person has no control over what they’re doing, but they don’t really care, while the closing track “Supply and Demand” begins with the line “My boss he’s a probable bore,” which everyone can relate to. Also, the line is just so snotty in the best possible way. There are also various references to rebellion and doing what you want in throughout the album.
Overall, the album gets 7.5/10. If you’re looking for a short, sweet pick me up album that’s a lot of fun, then listen to this record. It’s the best Hives record, but it does have some of their biggest hits on it. While there isn’t a boring track here, the constant stream of garage rock guitar riffs and loud mouth Pelle gets a little dull halfway through. If anything it’s a promising album that allowed The Hives to keep having great success here in America. But if you’re looking for something where they change up their sound, check out some of their later work.