I'm one of those people who could listen to Josh Homme scratch a chalk board with his nails and then go, “This is the sort of innovation that makes Joshua a musical genius.” I am a fan, and I'll try my best to curb my excitement as I write about Queens of the Stone Age's new album “Villains”, which is so good I cried on my first listen.
I didn't actually cry but this is going to be a positive review. “…Like Clockwork” came out in 2013 with its dark and heavy tunes, and QotSA did an excellent job capturing that mood on that record. But those expecting something similar would be the ones who were clamouring that the band had “gone pop” when the first single from the album, The Way You Used to Do came out. It's a dance number, and it's done exactly the way you'd expect Queens to do a dance number: a retro stomp with bouncing riffs and Michael Schuman killing it on the bass.The second pre released singled, The Evil Has Landed, was far better received because it sounded “more like QotSA” than the first one. Yet, if you aren't one to indulge in some impromptu hip-shaking, you'll at least feel your head bobbing sideways on this track.
The opening track on the album, Feet Don't Fail Me, features Josh Homme singing the line “I was born in the desert, May 17 in '73”, and this track does a decent job of announcing The Ginger Elvis musically. It starts slow with a synthesiser intro, and picks up the tempo gradually, leaving you with the familiar aftertaste of a fast paced riff that thumps on your eardrums.
The album slows down for the first time on its third track, Domesticated Animals. The band plays around with the riff threatening to reach a crescendo until it eventually does. Homme brings his A-game in writing as he mocks the weak willed human, making it one of the better songs on this record.
Fortress, the fourth track on Villains, is a melody. It's a hauntingly beautiful track that warns of the darkness life has the tendency to dish up, and will make you dig deeper with every listen. Hideaway and Un-reborn Again follow up with similar tempos later on in the album.
'Head Like a Haunted House' is a songthat reminded me of The Dead Kennedys''Holiday in Cambodia.' Funky and dry in the first half, Troy van Leeuwen and Josh Homme spice up things up on the guitars in the second of the song to make the situation wetter.
The last track on the record, Villains of Circumstance, is the sort of QotSA song that almost makes you proud to be a fan. It's a love song, it'll haunt you (in a good way), and it slows down and picks up just at the right time to take you on a journey that'll help you come to terms with your interpretation of the music. As Josh Homme sings “I'll be forever yours/Always, evermore, and on and on”, you let go a sigh of many meanings, the album comes to an end, and you're compelled to hit repeat once more.
Overall, the album is excellent, with a couple of tracks in the middle that maybe you'll want to skip over on the first listen. But like most songs these guys serve up, it grows on you with every listen, and by the end of the year, Villains may well turn out to be one of your favourite albums of 2017.
Azmin Azran is what you would find if you took a bunch of human beings and made a new one out of their median characteristics. He's so average he's a mathematical anomaly. Send money at firstname.lastname@example.org