Last year's press darlings, the Strokes, helped kick-start a resurgence of three-chord moppets that could rock without resorting to arena-sized gestures. To date, the trend's primary beneficiaries have been such long-struggling acts as Detroit's White Stripes and Sweden's the Hives. When the Hives issued its sophomore effort, Veni Vindi Vicious, nearly two years ago, the release was met with almost total indifference on U.S. shores. Flash forward to '02 and times have changed, as music pundits scramble to stay ahead of the curve. In April, none other than the venerable New Yorker weighed in with a four-page paean to the Hives, declaring Veni "exuberant and powerful." A heady accolade, to be sure. Infectious, sneering and whip-smart, the group bulldozes through a dozen tracks with supreme confidence and unwavering flair, stumbling only with an unwise cover of the Impressions' "Find Another Girl." Whether the Hives and its pretty-boy peers possess anything resembling staying power remains to be seen, but it's likely that discriminating listeners (such as the ones who read about the group in the New Yorker) will continue to choose two-minute shockwaves from the gilded garage over fluffy pop and bloated power ballads.