Music aside, The Hives' story is pretty compelling: Hailing from a Swedish nowhere, the band's members have silly/cool names, dress in an odd cross between mod and rockabilly fashions, and claim that they exclusively record songs written by a never-seen Svengali named Randy Fitzsimmons. On the other hand, the music would command attention even without the backstory. The group plays with a rarely matched combination of ferocity and hooks, knowing that if volume and catchiness demand attention on their own, combining them should get the job done in half the time. Released in 2002, Veni Vidi Vicious sounded like the pinnacle of Hivesdom, and any band would have a hard time topping an album that began with a declaration of "guerre nucleaire." And yet, Tyrannosaurus Hives makes what's come before sound like so much throat-clearing.
Success seems to have emboldened Pelle Almqvist and his bandmates. Here, they sound looser and freer than before, as though they're growing more comfortable with the glorious absurdity of being The Hives. The songs still fly by, but they leave an even deeper impression, and the musical palette has expanded considerably. Almqvist sounds like a satanic James Brown on "Diabolic Scheme," and there's a touch of the '80s, as well. "Walk Idiot Walk" has a fuzz reminiscent of The Tubes, while "A Little More For Little You" gets a lot of mileage out of what sounds like an electric harpsichord.
At its most dizzying, Tyrannosaurus Hives suggests a low-budget attempt at new wave as constructed out of half-vanished memories, years after the fact. The details are all wrong, but the sound couldn't be more right. Tyrannosaurus Hives sounds as ambitious as could be expected from an album that clocks in under 30 minutes, even though its ambitions rarely extend beyond delivering concentrated bursts of rock 'n' roll at high voltage. Take the title seriously: This one's a monster.