Following the trend catapulted by the Beatles’ White Album, and resurrected with Jay-Z’s Black Album, the Hives’ recently released “The Black and White Album” is anything but grey.
No two songs sound alike, as this garage-rock band compiles the sounds of various types of music to create their own unique sound in their fourth album. “The Black and White Album” is characterized by meaningful lyrics composition and vivid metaphors.
The first song “Tick Tick Boom,” which is also the first single from the CD, features the classic garage-rock sound as the group perfectly utilizes ticking-time-bomb sound effect as a metaphor that encourages listeners to do things while they have the chance, rather than waiting for the right time, because before you know it, “tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-boom” it’s too late.
The Hives also send listeners an inspirational message in “Try Again” with the words, “If same-ing isn’t working, why don’t you try different instead / They say the definition of madness is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.” This upbeat song is meant to give hope to those who feel like there is no hope. The cheerleaders’ chanting in the background gives the song somewhat of a teenybopper feel, but serves as a very clever touch.
“Well Alright,” produced by Pharell Williams, is sheer genius. The melody almost sounds like a 1940s swing/jitterbug melody and would be perfect for a room full of people wanting a little kick in their step. The song, which is about forgetting about all the difficulties of life and just dancing, imitates the lyrics through its music as the tempo suddenly slows down in the middle, and lead-singer, Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist sadly sings, “On and on, the world spins ’round/ It’s enough to get you down/ But I don’t worry ’cause sometimes you just have to Whoo hoo!” At this point the upbeat music returns and the image of complete and carefree happiness is restored.
“T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S.,” also produced by Williams, has a 70’s funk beat and style as The Hives sing about themselves, explaining the excitement their fans feel in anticipation of, and during one, of their concerts.
Another song in which The Hives achieved the rare feat of making the music say the same thing as the lyrics, is “Puppet on a String,” produced by The Hives. The song, consisting of what sounds like an old, upright-piano, and music box bells, sounds like the background music to a marionette show, and speaks of people who don’t think for themselves, and let the world control their minds and actions, like puppets on a string.
In an untitled instrumental, consisting of simply an organ a bass, drums and a tambourine, The Hives play a melodic, even tranquilizing, tune (the only slow song on the album). This refreshing break from all of the danceable music is reminiscent of the Doors, or a theme song for a 1960’s horror film.
If you’re into music that means something, and you like variety, “The Black and White Album” is definitely a good purchase. The musical and lyrical genius that went into this album makes it perfect for the poet who can search for all of the irony and innuendos, as well as the person who just wants to kick back and listen to some good music.