Hip-hop producer Pharrell Williams steps behind the boards for a pair of songs on the Hives' fourth CD. But The Black and White Album
is no makeover: The band pretty much sticks to the two-chords/two-minutes principle that made it Sweden's chief contribution to the garage revival five years ago. A mid-song breakdown in "Well All Right!" and the disco stomp "T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S." are the only signs that Pharrell's space-age funk paid a visit to Howlin' Pelle Almqvist and crew. Otherwise, it's the usual amps-to-eleven and hey-does-this-rhyme? shtick ("When times are hardy — giddy up!/We throw a party — giddy up!" goes the chorus of one cut). And like all Hives records, The Black and White Album
loses steam after about fifteen minutes. Still, the explosive opener "Tick Tick Boom" proves that it's good for at least one ear-ringing blast.