THE DEATH OF RANDY FITZSIMMONS
The Hives are back! Following a period of semi-hiatus and the departure of original bassist Dr. Matt Destruction, the Swedish punk outfit has returned with their first album since 2012’s Lex Hives. The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons is the first studio record to feature The Johan And Only on bass and, most excitedly, is among their greatest album yet, making their return a triumphant affair.
Opening with the lead single, “Bogus Operandi”, a riff heavy rocker driven by a relentless pulse and accented by a repeated backing vocal that sounds like it could have been sampled from an early Queen record. Very few things actually change between verse, chorus, and bridge in “Bogus Operandi”, making the shifts, as slight and subtle as they are, all the more noticeable. There is a raw power and an overall catchiness in the riff and the lead vocals that carry the song despite the minimalism behind it all. The following track, “Trapdoor Solution”, lasting just three seconds over a minute, feels like a complete throwback to the likes of Veni Vidi Vicious, a rare moment for The Hives in 2023, but refreshing none the less, no matter how fleeting it may seem.
Without a weak moment on the album, The Hives channel a collection of classic punk bands – The Ramones, The Stooges, and The Clash – to deliver a record that feels distinctly vintage. From the desert shuffle of “Rigor Mortis Radio” to the dark sound – something that feels inexplicably that of New Orleans – of “Stick Up”, the band have found an abundance of alternative shades to make The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons their most versatile release yet. This, of course, does not take away from their credibility as bonafide punk rockers, as best heard on “Two Kinds Of Trouble”, “The Bomb”, and “Step Out Of The Way”, in addition to the two opening songs.
In an alternate timeline, The Rolling Stones pursued punk rock in the wake of The Sex Pistols rather than steering their late ‘70s material towards pop music; after all, there is an element of proto-punk to Exile On Main St. There is an attitude to The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons that feels nostalgic for this lost fever dream of a could-have-been moment. There is a vibe the band carries that aligns them with a true sense of danger, something that affirms The Hives as the definitive classic punk band of our time, despite the clear evolution in their sound. Having made their debut in 1997, The Hives sound hungrier than ever, with their teeth remaining sharp, making The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons one of the most thrilling releases of the year.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: THE HIVES – THE DEATH OF RANDY FITZSIMMONS