Writer: Jarrett Crepeau
Queens of The Stone Age is back with their seventh album, Villains, released August 25th, 2017, and they are better than ever. Known since their self titled 1998 album for their synthesized, bass heavy vamping alt rock, they are really stepping up the game since the rather soft, melancholic 2013 album Like Clockwork… Joshua Homme, the band’s frontman, brings a wide variety of vocal ranges, going from the adrenaline filled opener, Feet Don’t Fail Me, to the soft ballad, Villains of Circumstance. Having Mark Ronson (The guy behind Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk that doesn’t get enough credit) as producer certainly adds a new spin to the band’s usual sound. This album has something for every Queens fan but also enough to entice new listeners. Before I start the review however, I’d like to mention that this album features the artwork of the reclusive artist, only known as “b0ne face.” He worked with QOTSA on Like Clockwork… and this time around has created artwork for every track on this album, and prints of those works come with the deluxe vinyl version in case you are interested. Now let’s get into a few of my favorite tracks from this nine song album.
The Way You Used To Do is the first single off the album released back in June 2017, shocking fans and newcomers alike, climbing to the top of Spotify’s Rock charts quickly. The song is said to be a love letter to Josh Homme’s wife, where he sings about how they met and their early relationship. This song can only be described as fast paced and extremely danceable. I’d even consider adding it to your workout playlist. Everything about the song just pumps you up. It has loud guitars meshing with synthesizers that create this sort of electronic swing that just pleases your ears. This track alludes back to the sound of their 2007 album Era Vulgaris, which has been welcomed by a majority of the fanbase and is certainly one of my favorites off this record.
Un-Reborn Again is the sixth track off the album and it comments on hard drug use and social media culture giving young people fantasies of immortality, hence b0ne face’s fountain of youth imagery. The song features more of that synth-rock and swing influences as saxophones bellow out melodies behind the guitars that are hard to catch at times, but after a few listens highlight the song nicely. Homme’s smooth vocals and enticing lyrics take you on a journey. This track wasn’t my favorite at first, but as I read through the lyrics and really paid attention to the instrumental, I really fell in love with it.
While it may seem that I think this album is absolutely flawless, being a long time fan of QOTSA, I do have some issues with it. A few of these tracks are relatively forgettable, and doesn’t feel quite right. Specifically songs like Hideaway and Head Like a Haunted House. They just sound like they were not given as much time and attention to as some of the other songs, and many hardcore fans have to agree. The album as a whole has the fanbase split. Many love it because of how experimental and fresh it is; but, a large vocal crowd says that Homme has sold out, and were very put off by having a pop producer like Ronson involved with the project.
Ultimately, I enjoy this album because it has a little something for everything, I challenge you to listen to it and not find any tracks you like. As for a score or rating? I’m not a huge fan in number scores due to how arbitrary and subjective they are. However I will say that if you like pop-rock, alternative, or looking for something new, you will enjoy this album. Queens of the Stone Age have always had this welcoming charm to their music. You don’t have to be a head banging rocker to enjoy their music, which is why their fanbase is so widespread. I recommend you give this album a listen (clocking out at 48 minutes total) because it’s something you can pick up and listen to pretty easily, and I promise you will get something out of it.