The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons

The Hives

The Hives AB, 2023

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


The Hives were part of the garage-rock craze of the early 2000s, with “Hate To Say I Told You So” and Veni Vidi Vicious an integral part of the return-to-basics ethos of that movement. Like most bands of that era, they didn’t last too long; their initial run of albums ended in 2007, with Lex Hives in 2012 the only release between then and this new one.

However, it’s as if no time has passed at all. Death is a rollicking half-hour of punky party garage rock, with no song longer than 3 minutes (the opener “Bogus Operandi” has about 30 seconds of noise before the song proper begins). The Swedish quintet is clearly having a blast, even after nearly three decades, and it’s hard not to get caught up in the current.

Granted, for people who remember these guys, this is a sound that was part of their high school or college years, so there’s a certain throwback thrill to tunes like “Smoke & Mirrors” and “Countdown To Shutdown.” The overall effect has the vibe that bands like Van Halen and Weezer went for in their heydays: half-hour albums with hooks and attitude and grins, not meant to be deep or subtle. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

This is an interesting approach too, considering the genesis of the album. Randy Fitzsimmons is the alter ego of guitarist and primary songwriter Nick Arson (Niklas Almqvist), and over the last decade the band has wrestled with various health problems. One would expect a wiser, older band to release a post-pandemic album with ruminations on aging and mortality (as we have seen many times), but the Hives went a different way, returning to the sound that inspired them and that keeps them happy.

The sense of humor is still intact too in various lyrics, most notably on the rampaging rave-up “Two Kinds Of Trouble:” “I never walked a single step in nobody else's shoes / And I never really talked to people 'cause that's time you can't afford to lose / Every word somebody spoke was th? dumbest I ever h?ard.” Other highlights include the surf rock/overdrive guitar marriage “That’s The Way The Story Goes” and the breakneck testosterone-fueled pace of “The Bomb,” “Step Out Of The Way” and “Trapdoor Solution,” which together comprise just over five minutes of music, like the great punk albums of yore. “The Bomb” also has a pretty funny, nonsensical call-and-response section, if you can slow your pulse down enough to catch it.

About the only duff track on the album is “What Did I Ever Do To You,” only because it’s a bit out of place amid the chaos. It’s an ’80s-inspired electro-pop track, not necessarily catchy, and seeming like it belonged to another album. Burying it toward the end was the smartest idea; I can’t imagine it being anyone’s favorite Hives song, but it does show another side to the band’s sound, at least.

Party rock albums usually don’t change lives, make you think about the human condition or soundtrack your relationship. They exist when you want to have a good time, and Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons is the latest in a long line of albums that fit this bill. It’s good to have the Hives back, and this is easily one of the most energetic and fun albums of the year.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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