The Hives, as you probably already know, have been poking my curiosity lately, but in more ways than the music itself. They have a distinct personality; so powerful, that the images of their uniform and Pelle's on-stage antics outlast the actual music. So it becomes obvious when they alter their style, as they have throughout the years.
Here are the first 3 of their 4 albums, from first to the last.
1997; very simple. They clearly own, albeit an archaic version, the swagger that precedes them. But it's not quite focused here. As a result they seem a little awkward and incomplete. This came four years after the band originated.
Here's the 2000 album, Veni Vidi Vicious. This is where they established their fundamental style and music, with the insta-classics "Main Offender" and "Hate to Say I Told You So". It's somewhat of a prototype; you can see the glimpses of the modern-day Hives here, but they hadn't yet mastered the style or music. This was three years after their first album, and about seven years after the band began.
Here's the 2004 album, Tyrannosaurus Hives. This marks the appearance of the Hives' most signature style, as well as the songs that peaked their popularity and best represented the band (Particularly "Two-Timing Touch and Broken Bones", and "Walk Idiot Walk"). This was seven years after their first album, and 11 years after the band was conceptualized.
Eleven whole years before the Hives became fundamentally what they are known for today. And it wasn't just their looks that altered; their music has significantly evolved since then as well.
Take "Well, Well, Well" from the '97 Barely Legal album, which is very much a punk song that sounds reminiscent of Dead Kennedys. This is in drastic contrast to their 2007 outing, "The Black and White Album", with songs like "Tick Tick Boom" and "Hey Little World", which are slower and more alternative/mainstreamed. Not to mention Pelle hadn't found his signature singing voice and live style during "Barely Legal".
It takes a decade to rip-off Mick Jagger.
This all makes me realize that the evolution of a band is a slow process; one that requires it to progress naturally and fluidly. A band finds its center late into the process, generally 3 to 4 years after either the first album or the band altogether. And even then, it takes a little longer to master that sound/image.
So music and the process of creating it becomes a matter of patience and faith, testing whether you can withstand rocky and unkempt beginnings for future understanding and success.
It's a dangerous game to play though; bands can take several years until they're picked up by a label and their first album is made, and a decade or more before making an impact on their particular scene. Flirting with time like this can end up sucking your personal life, chasing for something that may never come based on this fact.
However, it's good to know that good music, like wine, takes time. It only means that the most dedicated and prepared artists can make the biggest splashes, filtering out the impatient and the amateur.
...For the most part.