Plenty of bands have used shtick to make a name for themselves, but only the good ones last after the novelty wears off — which explains why the Hives are still around six years after they broke out in the States. The players, led by Howlin' Pelle Almqvist (the subject of a Q&A accessible at blogs.westword.com/backbeat) turned heads early on with their matching suits, persistent mugging and stage bravado, yet the raucous, witty material on 2002's Veni Vidi Vicious boasted real (and raw) staying power. Since then, sales have diminished, leading the boys to tinker with the formula; The Black and White Album, their latest CD, includes contributions from producers such as the Neptunes' Pharrell and Jacknife Lee, a high-rent remixer. Fortunately, the disc still overflows with the outfit's trademark big beats, jumpy chording, giant hooks and infectious babbling. The results make the Hives, currently touring with the Donnas, a pleasure that induces no guilt whatsoever.
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