If you’re new to the blog and have just stumbled upon it please be aware that I am a huge fan of Queens of the Stone Age. The following review may contain scenes of giddy screaming, hints of hyperventilation and a smidge of tears. Today marks the release of QOTSA’s seventh album Villains, and with the world seemingly becoming switched on to the talent of the Desert-dusted veterans it’s possibly their most anticipated record yet. Coming four years after the release of the seminal …Like Clockwork, Villains looks set to build upon the foundations of a new beginning and head off on another journey of re-discovery. With producer Mark Ronson involved, this record is finally the soundtrack behind Josh Homme’s ‘Ginger Elvis’ moniker. It’s heavy, it’s sentimental, and it knows how to dance.
QOTSA have always known how to kick off their records. Rated R had ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’, Songs for the Deaf had ‘You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar…’, Era Vulgaris had ‘Turnin’ on the Screw’ -big songs that came prepped with thick riffs and huge licks. Villains holds arguably their greatest opener yet in ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me’. With it’s looming intro, it’s not long until the fanciest of riffs kicks in with it’s robot rock-esque thunder, immediately swooping the listener into a false sense of disco fever. Homme’s vocals croon into place, delivering a set of hooks that collide against the mechanical guitars and sturdy drums to produce a Queens’ version of ‘Uptown Funk’. Uptown, funk you up indeed.
This fancy to be dandy is tickled throughout Villains as lead single ‘The Way You Used to Do’ jolts superbly between snappy drums and preppy handclaps to bring a modern twist & shout into the mix. While it marks a new direction towards the dancefloor for Queens of the Stone Age, it always comes prepared with a case full of heavy guitar riffs that are pummelled into the brain. There’s just an added concentration on the hips this time round, making everything swing into place within it’s harsh reality.
‘Domesticated Animals’ glitches it’s way through the airwaves, delivering a subtle but danceable instrumental that soon beefs up into a bold display of masculine groove. ‘Head like a Haunted House’ comes into full force with a Dead Kennedy’s set of morals and an instrumental like rushes to the stage with a flurry of vocals and guitar riffs, producing a truly frantic performance which may have been missing in recent QOTSA records.
These dancefloor-inclined tracks allow the momentum of Villains to flow wonderfully into each new idea that’s introduced, but there’s also a side of the record that offers a much rawer sound too. Once the dancefloor’s over, tracks such as ‘Fortress’ and ‘Un-Reborn Again’ loom into place to allow Josh Homme to project his more vulnerable side, which he fully embraced on …Like Clockwork and looks to be more comfortable revealing on Villains.
Of course we’ve already talked about the monstrous behemoth that is ‘The Evil Has Landed’ but it sets things up nicely for closing track ‘Villains of Circumstance’. It’s six minutes of brilliance brings closure to a record that seems to have reached the light at the end of the tunnel and decided to punch it out. Embracing the pain and journey taken towards the light on …Like Clockwork and turning it into the productive, careless nature of Villains.
Villains is the confident version of …Like Clockwork who found it’s feet after stumbling towards rock bottom, and as someone who leaned heavily on the latter it becomes a nice memento as looking forwards after dealing with a bad past. It’s a fantastic album, and another reason why Queens of the Stone Age continue to remain my favourite band of all time.