REVIEW: The Hives: Veni Vidi Vicious
The Hives: Veni Vidi Vicious [Burning Heart Records, 2000]
Three words? Rock Now Fast!
So in this post-Strokes world, the band-du-jour is a five-piece from Sweden called the Hives. And you know what? They're that good.
At just under twenty-eight minutes, Veni Vidi Vicious is like a canister of compressed, riotous energy; a screaming, rocking, roaring little record that shakes itself till it passes out. From the "uh oh, here we go" guitar scales that open "The Hives - Declare Guerre Nucléaire", to the closing crunch of "Supply and Demand", the Hives are sharing garage punk with the masses, shouting in their faces till they see the light and begin to rock. Like San Francisco's Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the Hives produce raw, fuzzy music that is the polar opposite of the poppy, produced California punk of Blink 182 and Sum 41. If the Kinks grew up listening to the Sex Pistols and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and had nothing the hell to do cause they were stuck in some small Swedish village, this is what they would sound like at their big, breakthrough show. None of these songs clocks in at more than three-and-a-half minutes, and all are played at a frenetic, unstoppable pace. Guitars chug and churn while drums split themselves open and Howlin' Pelle Almqvist, well, howls into a shitty microphone, his voice collapsing into an almost undecipherable squawk.
What prevents this album from simply being a jumbled collection of noise is the simple but high quality of the songs. Like some bastardized, head-blown-off version of lounge music, these tunes have an almost retro approach to melody and chorus: that is, they make sure they have good ones. Clomping, head-bopping "Main Offender" will have even the most demure listener subvocalising the chorus, stamping along with the fat-as-roast-beef guitarline. The hoi polloi backup vocals of "Outsmarted" sell the lyrics as if they were a mantra, not repetition of a single, stupid word.
On those occasional moments where the songs don't quite grab you ("Knock Knock", or the woefully out-of-place "Find Another Girl"), things sort of drop off, but each of these tunes is so short that you scarcely have time to blink before there's another, wholly awesome tune exploding through the stereo. It's ultimately this incessant onslaught that provides the biggest challenge on the disc: like all of the world's purest rock, Veni Vidi Vicious is almost visceral in its attack, and repeated consecutive listens make your head feel like it's been kicked by a boot with polished spurs.
But then, sometimes that's a good thing.