I spent the last weekend listening to the new Queens of the Stone Age album ‘Villains’ pretty much nonstop (with short breaks to listen to the new Foo Fighters single a few times).
As a late adopter, taking notice of the band around the same time Dave Grohl joined them on the drums for ‘Songs for the Deaf,’ I’ve enjoyed each album watching the progression from 3 piece stoner rock to all-star, revolving door project. This record feels like four fellas who have been touring with Josh Homme and backing him up are finally a cohesive unit of equals, moved out of the specter of the breakup between Josh and former bassist Nick Oliveri.
If I had one complaint about the last record ‘…Like Clockwork,’ it lacked an up-tempo, straight up rock-n-f’n-roll feel. That complaint was quickly squashed after witnessing their live show and realizing at this point in their career, Queens doesn’t NEED more uptempo stuff. Their catalog is already full of thundering hits like “No One Knows” and “Little Sister.” However, with ‘Villains,’ the band adds more danceable, clap-along tracks to their live repertoire. Opening up with “Feet Don’t Fail Me,” after a rather lengthy intro, and sliding into “The Way You Used to Do,” Queens shows a little bit more to offer than the radio edited single you’ve already heard. It’s a nice surprise and also gives the band plenty of room to jam out in a live setting.
While the term “dance” has been used very frequently in relation to this record, make no mistake, this is a guitar rock album. Plenty of six string action between the 3 leads but with more prominent synthesizer parts, and even orchestral string parts and a Theremin added to “Head Like A Haunted House” to give it a spookier vibe. Also, not every one of the 9 tracks are toe tappers as the heartfelt “Fortress” shows, illustrating Homme’s gift of metaphor is alive and well. The final track “Villains of Circumstance” cements something I’ve felt since the last record in that, if he has one hidden talent it’s Josh’s ability to write a record closer.
MVPs include “Domesticated Animals,” a perfect follow up track to “The Way You Used to Do,” the Synth heavy “Un-Reborn Again” and album climax “The Evil has Landed.” All of them will make great additions to the live set and feel more like direct siblings of previous songs like “Make It Wit Chu” and “The Sky is Fallin’,” and less like distant cousins. Sure, Queens have made heavier records, but this feels like the natural next step to keep things fresh, not just us, but for them as well.
Everything you love about the band is still here just matured and mutated under the watchful eyes of producer Mark Ronson and wrapped in another beautiful package illustrated by “…Like Clockwork” artist Boneface.
If the first two singles from the oncoming Foo Fighters record ‘Concrete And Gold’ are any indication, it almost feels like this album and that one are companion pieces and it’s easy to believe they were recorded literally across the street from each other as reports have indicated.
Chuck Bean is on-air, most likely when you’re asleep, making him the perfect late-night companion when you have musical insomnia. Also currently hosting NerdRadio Wednesday Nights on RIFF2.