Song of the Week delves into the fresh songs we just can’t get out of our heads. Find these tracks and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist, and for our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, Swedish rockers The Hives make a grand return with “Bogus Operandi.”
The Hives have never been strangers to the dramatic. The Swedish garage rock quintet became known for songs at maximum power, with hair-raising guitar riffs, and anthemic, shout-friendly melodies. And for their sixth album, The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons — their first album since 2012 — they’re doubling down on some macabre themes and a horror-tinged concept. According to the band, Randy Fitzsimmons was The Hives’ imaginary sixth member, manager, and songwriter, so the album follows his death and the ensuing fallout.
Lead single “Bogus Operandi” is the first offering from the album, and it’s a barnstorming return to high-energy rock. From the track’s opening notes, the scene is set for a high-stakes romp that could easily soundtrack a car chase in an action movie. It’s a treat to hear that even in their 26th year as a band, they still sound incredibly vital — frontman Pelle Almqvist’s gritty tone may not be in his usual high-flying register, but it’s teeming with power nonetheless, and as always with The Hives, the guitar work is enough to shake you to your core.
There is an almost manic, no-holds-barred energy to “Bogus Operandi,” which features jagged lines like, “My personality’s rotten all the way,” and, “Stand to the side when my shit starts wrecking.” Part of it just feels silly, which might actually be the point. In a statement describing the ethos behind The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons, Almqvist decrees that, “Rock and roll can’t grow up, it is a perpetual teenager and this album feels exactly like that, which it’s all down to our excitement – and you can’t fake that shit.”
“Bogus Operandi” also arrives with an appropriately wild music video. As the band searches for Randy Fitzsimmons’ grave, they encounter white-eyed zombies, an eerie log cabin, devilish symbols, rat poison, and a killer spoon(?), and each meets their gory demise. They reemerge for the final chorus as these white-eyed demons, and they conclude the video in a chilling fashion. It feels akin to both The Evil Dead and the 2008 Swedish film Let The Right One In, and it’s a fittingly dark companion piece to the full-throttle “Bogus Operandi.”
20 years later, “Bogus Operandi” makes it clear that nobody is making rock music like The Hives anymore. They may be putting an end to the fictional reign of Randy Fitzsimmons, but it gives way to another new era of The Hives — and it’s great to have them back.
— Paolo Ragusa