The Hives - The Black And White Album

'The Black And White Album' is the Hives's second since 'Your New Favourite Band', the compilation of what they'd done while gigging and recording restlessly in Sweden, made them internationally famous. The best song on that album was 'I Hate To Say I Told You So' which was just a bit more fist pounding than the rest of them. It sounds a lot like Black and White's first track and lead single 'Tick Tick Boom', where Pelle Almqvist sings something a lot more fun, screaming 'teek teek teek teek teek BOOM!' An explosion and thrashed chord follow. The Hives aren't original but it's impossible to ignore each time they reappear in the charts.

They've changed wardrobes or, more likely, moved to a different part of their really big one. Still in black and white, their blazers and shirts are now black and the ties are both and striped. Other than that Almqvist is still saying 'How do you spell genius? H-I-V-E-S' at gigs and the band are still only making infectious, loud music with guitars.

Well, almost. They don't sound it but the Hives must be worried about being dubbed formulaic song writers because a couple of times they do something completely different. 'A Stroll Through Hives Manor' is an instrumental piece played on a keyboard. No, really. It sounds like it was meant to accompany the vampire walking the corridors of his castle in the grainy black and white 'Nasferatu' and recorded about the same time as the film. They even had Pharrell Williams, a hip hop producer, help them out on 'T-H-E H-I-V-E-S' which, I swear, sounds like 'She Wants To Move' by the Neptunes.

Why? It's not like the band suddenly stopped being able to play like every great punk or garage band at will. The last song 'Fall Is Just Something Grown Ups Invented' is, criminally as far as the rest of the world is concerned, a bonus track for the UK. The band must set a new record for most chords played in two and a half minutes while Almqvist sings about how grown ups invented school so that kids wouldn't play all day like they should. If cartoon characters ever get together for a rave they'll have this on repeat. This and all their songs like it is why people love the Hives. You don't need to change a formula when it's as winning as theirs and, besides, artistic depth, thought provocation and hip hop are just things grown ups invented.