On July 20th 2004, Sweden’s The Hives released the album “Tyrannosaurus Hives”. Shame on me that I did not first hear any of it until late 2007 (big thank you to my dear friend Matt Herrebout for handing it to me). I guess it’s even more shameful that I hadn’t sat–or walked/drove/whatever–and listened to the whole thing until 2018. Unfortunately. Forgive me for making up lost time.
What I’ve learned is that Tyrannosaurus Hives is a twelve song/twenty-nine minute and fifty-eight second assault of rock and roll sonic stereo sound perfection. The cover is fantastic: look at those white ties!! One of them has great sideburns and a receding hairline, and still looks downright awesome despite of it.
Here are the official names of The Hives from inside the album booklet:
Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, Nicholas Arson, Matt Destruction, Chris Dangerous, and Vigilante Carlstroem.
Ladies and gentleman, those are fantastic monikers.
I’ve spent many recent days taking a deep-dive of probably 213 listens to Tyrannosaurus Hives. 213 may not be exaggerated as my wife was in England for nine days–I needed to properly fill the time.
These are the notes that came to mind during my studies:
- The opening song “Abra Cadaver” is not just a genius title for an opener. It’s a ferocious lead-in to give the listener the cocksure assurance that The Hives are not fu$*#ng around and the next 29 minutes will not only be meaningful, but also delightful. Starting off with a lighting drum fill, it’s completely on from there. Not just “on.” More like “on fire.” And the ape like “ew ew ew ew ew” with fifteen seconds remaining? Bloody hell how marvelous is that!? It’s Howlin’ Pelle’s signature stamp on this track 1 perfection.
- On Tyrannosaurus Hives, The Hives master the art of the rock & roll song conclusion. For example: the best parts of “Two Timing Touch and Broken Bones,” “See Through Head,” and even “Dead Quote Olympics” are the final :25 seconds of each song. Don’t believe me? Listen to the damn things and see for yourself. This doesn’t sound like much time but when a track is only two minutes long, :25 seconds at maximum volume is plenty of time to jump and strut around your living room and get strange and curious looks from your dog Baxter. This happened at least 6 or 7 times last Saturday afternoon.
- “Love In Plaster”: What a build! What a song! It’s on the longer end of songs for this album, clocking in an epic Sonic Youth-like 3 minutes 10 seconds. It really goes off the rails on several occasions then hammers back into the melody. Most excellent!
- “Walk Idiot Walk”: Put this song on your earholes and walk through Rittenhouse Square at 12:15 pm on a Saturday. Without even realizing it, you won’t be walking. You’ll be strutting with an unprecedented swagger you may not realize you had. Try it. You won’t feel like an idiot at all. You’ll likely feel invincible.
- On February 23rd 2008 (Saturday) Matt Herrebout and I saw The Hives at the Showbox Market in Seattle. They completely knocked us on our arse. After blasting the audience into a frenzy with “Walk Idiot Walk”, Howlin’ Pelle said to the audience: “Yes that really happened, you really just saw us do ‘Walk Idiot Walk’ right in front of your very eyes. You are not imagining things.” Howlin’ Pelle has a great Swedish accent, and it was an appropriate thing to say. Cocksure indeed, taken straight from Mick himself.
- Simply put, the delightful hooks and turns and misdirections that “A Little More for Little You” takes the listener on is just straight-up refreshing. A sing-along question and answer chorus likely makes for a perfect live track for The Hives to hammer through.
Fellow comrade Kyle Allen from Rapid City, South Dakota shares my Hives sentiment. He saw The Hives open for The Strokes in 2002. Recently this is what he said about it:
“My most vivid memory is Pelle launching off the stage. Then he ran up the aisle. He was wearing a suit. Actually, they all were wearing suits. The same exact matching suit.”
The same exact matching suit. Like some kind of dapper wedding party, ready to provide the entertainment for the evening.
“…and ladies and gentlemen for Karen and Steven’s first dance united in marriage, here’s a special one called Abra Cadaver.”
To wrap this up you can certainly say in the last 20+ years that music has gone through unbelievable changes. How we get it, how we hear it. The concept of a full complete album may be lost on what consumers are looking for versus just finding the song and playing it. The art form of putting together a complete album, and giving listeners joy by just pushing play and letting it go from beginning to end and letting it rip may not mean what it did in 1971. But holy smokes if this still matters to you, and this is what wets your fancy then Tyrannosaurus Hives is for you my friend. For chrissakes, who doesn’t have 29 minutes and 58 seconds to have their socks blown off? If you do, then buckle up. Tyrannosaurus Hives is a 1988 Corvette with a full tank of gas sitting on a straight empty highway. Just idling. Waiting for you to hammer the pedal. Go ahead, drop the hammer.
One thought on “A salty salute to Tyrannosaurus Hives”
Joe (your author) and I saw this band in 2007, and I swear if Joe didn’t head for the front/pit at the first song and I didn’t see him again until it was over about 50 minutes later. He was sweaty. It was at the Showbox SODO and the Hives were the only band playing. They had a large, lighted “Hives” sign behind them, the band started in suits, and the singer Pelle moved across the stage like Mick Jagger, even doing the Jagger face. Fantastic performance.
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