“There was a rumor that circulated on our website that our album would be called The World’s First Perfect Record,” says Hives guitarist Nicholas Arson, and knowing the near-immodest sense of confidence that the Swedish quintet has displayed in the past, it’s surprising that the title didn’t stick. Even so, when the fourth Hives album finally hit store shelves, it bore the title The Black and White Album, and references to both Metallica’s definitive “Black” album and the Beatles eclectic White Album certainly were not accidental. Leave it to the Hives to find a boast better than perfection.

“We wanted to do something new, and how new we didn’t know,” Arson continues, fighting a cold while on tour in Germany. “But if you start off seeing how far you can go in the opposite direction, you see how much your own niche drags you back into what you did before. We were trying to go as much in the other direction as possible. We wanted it to be like a hip-hop record, where you have different producers for each track, or like a greatest hits record where you’re spanning a 30-year career and you’re taking the best tracks,” he says, pausing with satisfaction at that comparison. “We wanted it to be like a greatest hits album pretty much.”

To the extent that The Black and White Album most resembles a greatest hits collection not because it features a nonstop avalanche of hits but because it sounds like the overview of a band that is constantly in transition. Having earned their reputation with high-energy riff-rockers and a general contempt for subtlety, the boys in the matching suits certainly don’t disappoint with “Tick Tick Boom” and “Hey Little World.” But this time around, the Hives (and a small raft of producers) finally explore both sides of their collective creative persona, both the black and white sides, you might say.

Having had received a surprising amount of affection from the hip-hop community (even collaborating on a track with Timbaland for the uber-producer’s Shock Value album), it only made sense that the Hives would turn to beat-maker to the stars, Pharrell Williams.

“It was very inspiring for us to work with Pharrell, because he was just throwing stuff up on the ceiling and seeing what sticks,” Arson says of the hybrid of beats, synths, and garage guitars that turn up on “Well All Right!” and “T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S.” – two tracks that pushed the band away from their usual perfectionism. “We were always way too far up our own asses to do that. We could have a riff for a year and a half and only work on that riff. The Pharrell songs, we couldn’t have done that ourselves, I don’t think.”

And though those are only two tracks, they’re enough to get Arson to make an uncharacteristically humble statement. Still, having now broadened their musical horizons to allow room for experimental pop and hip-hop beats, they aren’t likely to lose their swagger any time soon. Having made their most eclectic album, could The World’s First Perfect Record be too far away? “That’s a good title for a record,” he muses. “Maybe the next one.”

www.hivesmusic.com

–Matt Fink

 
  1. [...] The hives a more perfect hives â

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