Queens Of The Stone Age are that band with that song you most likely know, but perhaps that’s the only thing you’ve heard from them in their 21 year career. It happens sometimes, you’re late to the party and you miss the best moment, but with the release of Villains – you’re perfectly on time to witness some of the finest work Queens Of The Stone Age have put out ever.
Opening in a jumble of guitar-led feedback, Feet Don’t Fail Me is the chaotic call to arms QOTSA needed to command the attention of the world once more. Evolving into a radio friendly track, there’s a distinctly 80s feel to the confident melody which perfectly matches Josh Homme’s more Bowie-esque style. If Bowie had lived long enough to collaborate with Royal Blood, this would be the result. Wrong on paper but pretty sweet in action.
You could easily be excused for thinking the intro of The Way You Used To Do was actually that of Mambo No. 5. Thankfully, this is where the similarities end making for an early high point. QOTSA are cocky without steeping themselves too deeply in the macho bravado that throws some people off the scent of modern rock music. It’s bolshy; that much is true, but it’s funky enough to electric slide its way to the right side of the tracks. The strained chords of Domesticated Animals won’t be to the taste of everyone, but persevere past the troublesome intro and you’ll find Homme at his peak. Leading the charge for revolution against capitalist overlords, QOTSA are gleefully taking a swipe without getting too drunk uncle at a dinner party.
Head Like A Haunted House sees QOTSA learn a thing or two from the riot grrrl era of the 90s, letting the reverb do the talking and their guitars do the yelling. The passion in the vocal remains, but this track is all about the guitars that will no doubt have festival crowds the world over mashing to in spectacular fashion.
As Villains progresses, you may find yourself yelling THIS IS SO BOWIE on multiple occasions. I’ve done it, we’ll all do it together in one unifying chorus. Josh Homme is an incredibly smart man, he’s taken the death of an icon and transformed it into exactly the type of flashy rock anthem few of us knew we needed. The synths are as otherworldly as Bowie himself, and QOTSA manage to retain their spirit whilst still paying homage to our dearly departed Star Man.
2017 so far could best be described by the song title; The Evil Has Landed. But rather than bathe in their own misery at the state of the universe, QOTSA are making the music needed to forget our respective troubles. The subtle focus on disco-tinged bass parts carry this track and multiple others across the line to victory, because take them away and this quite good record wouldn’t be worth much at all. It’s worth taking a pre-cursory listen before focusing in again on the bass lines, because they’re oh so groovy that you’ll want to dance to them again and again.
At only 10 tracks long, Villains doesn’t waste time in getting right down to it. However, Villains Of Circumstance takes its time, lures you in to a calmer sense of being. Despite being the anti-thesis to the rest of the record, it remains part of a more cohesive narrative. The despair in Homme’s voice and sparse guitar notes strike a retrospective chord before the idyllic chorus is unleashed. It’s not one to mosh to, it’s not one to lose a shoe to but it is a perfect headphones tune to soundtrack long bus rides into the urban abyss.
I began this review contemplating the relevance of Queens Of The Stone Age even after all these years, but after spending some time with the Villains; such doubts no longer prevail. Not only do they have a great passion, but they are able to take divisive issues and wrap them up in quality rock tunes. The current state of rock music isn’t the best, but Queens Of The Stone Age are back to reassure us that they’re still one of the good ones.