The biggest downside to convincing folks that you're the world's greatest rock 'n' roll band is the likelihood that you are, in fact, not the world's greatest rock 'n' roll band. That'll piss people off for real, and on first listen, the Hives' new Tyrannosaurus Hives (Interscope) seems to justify the disillusionment of those who happily lapped up the hype surrounding the Swedish band's breakthrough record, Veni Vidi Vicious. No longer is each song an explosive chain reaction in which Howlin' Pelle Almqvist's yelps detonate a string of guitar blasts that in turn trigger a flurry of drum conflagrations. The Hives' "Hate to Say I Told You So" was neo-garage-punk's ultimate slam dance in a minefield, but its new single, "Walk Idiot Walk," is more like a guide map around the mines, bogged down by guitarist Vigilante Carlstroem's belief that "I Can't Explain" needs twice as many chords. Yet when Carlstroem acts like the Voidoids invented garage rock on "Diabolic Scheme," or when "A Little More for Little You" breaks into a demented shout-along, the Hives compensate for their slightly dimmed intensity by expanding the number of pop forms they pretend to shoehorn themselves into. The big drawback of a Hives CD is that you can't actually see Almqvist's Jagger-like prance, which is less the mark of a true star's charisma than a celebratory parody of exuberant arrogance; live, the Hives don't sound any less like the world's greatest rock 'n' roll band than ever. Snow Patrol opens, Franz Ferdinand headlines. Sun 12/5, 6 PM, Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence, 312-666-6667 or 312-559-1212, $28.75. All ages.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Eric Josjo.