It’s 17 years since Queens of the Stone Age lit the way for post-grunge heavy rock with their Rated R album —essentially a monster truck in musical form.
Ever since they’ve served up hard-punching refinements on the same formula without ever truly forging into new territory.
That’s probably as much to do with frontman Josh Homme’s “if it ain’t broke” philosophy as with any musical limitations; their seventh LP confirms that the band remain content to splash about in their comfort zone.
Usually that would be a bad thing. However, QOTSA are so thrillingly competent at what they do that
Villains, though it may remind you of all their previous LPs, is nonetheless one of the hardest hitting and most vital guitar records you’ll encounter in 2017.
A degree of fuss has been caused by the presence of Mark Ronson as
producer — but his job has been to hone Homme and company’s already well-established funky side rather than wedge in a horn section or backing singers. Concerns that QOTSA were about to go Amy Winehouse are mercifully wide of the mark.
The LP is probably best enjoyed as a restatement of the group’s hard-swinging first principles. The growling ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me’ captures them at their machine-tooled heaviest; ‘The Way You Used To Do’ and ‘Domesticated Animals’ demonstrate Homme’s
remarkable fluidity as a singer.
He comes on like an angry quarterback one moment, a bruised and
vulnerable soul the next and it’s this ability to mesh the soft and the tough, the sour and the sweet, that has helped ensure that Queens of the Stone Age are like nobody else in rock. Villains sounds much like ever other QOTSA album ever – and what could be better than that?
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