Music | HIGH NOTES

The Hives: 'Your New Favourite Band'

by Simon Bartz

Reviews don’t get much simpler than this. Get in front of your computer, type in The Hives and download their single “Hate to Say I Told You So.” Listen to it once and The Hives will be “your new favorite band.” That’s 40 words. ‘Nuff said. . . . Oh, so you want a proper review?

OK. The Hives are from Sweden, and after eight years plying speedy garage-punk at about 1,500 gigs in toilet venues across Scandinavia with the odd adventure into mainland Europe and the United States, they were just about covering rent and booze bills.

Then, last year, Alan McGee — the music impresario who discovered Oasis and signed them to his now-defunct Creation label — got The Hives hitched up on his struggling new Poptones brand. To coincide with a bunch of gigs in Britain, “Hate to Say I Told You So” was released as the single from “debut” album “Your New Favourite Band,” which has gone on to shift almost 150,000 copies in the U.K.

Now McGee can once again afford champagne, and after you’ve heard this, you’ll be celebrating too. But it gets better . . .

Word of The Hives’ incredible high-voltage live shows has spread to Japan, and they’ve been added to the lineup of the Summersonic festival in Chiba this summer. But don’t wait around until then to check out their music, ‘cos this is the record that’s gonna catapult you into the summer with a big grin on your face.

“Your New Favourite Band” is actually a compilation of The Hives’ previous two albums, “Veni Vidi Vicious” and “Barely Legal,” but as those records sold about 100 copies between them, it made more sense for Poptones to collect the best songs from each one as well as three tracks from the superb EP “a.k.a. I-D-I-O-T” and release it as this compilation.

“Hate to Say I Told You So” is the first track and after hearing it once, you’re going to want to listen to it every day for the next six months. Guaranteed. Sounding like a combination of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Blur’s “Song 2,” it’s the most catchy pop song in years. (The only danger The Hives seem to face is being defined solely by THAT SONG.) But once you get over that, you’ll then be rewarded with a bunch of screaming bluesy anthems like “Hail Hail Spit ‘n’ Drool,” “The Hives Are Law, You Are Crime” and “Die, All Right!” which are every bit as mental as their fantastic titles suggest.

Imagine Guitar Wolf with better equipment or The Ramones twice as loud. No, actually, don’t do that. It’s unfair to compare The Hives to any other individual bands. They might be lumped into the retro garage-rock scene with bands like The White Stripes, and that’s fair enough, ‘cos The Hives are not just “your new favorite band,” they’re like a hyperactive hybrid of all your old favorite bands, too. Now off to the record store you go . . .