"Villains" By Queens Of The Stone Age
Alternative Rock/Released August 25, 2017
Queens Of The Stone Age had a triumphant return to rock's forefront with the release of their 2013 album ...Like Clockwork. A critical and commercial success, the album was the band's first number one album on the Billboard 200. With such high praise the band is looking to strike gold again with their follow up album Villains. The dark sound of ...Like Clockwork is heavily contrasted with Villains which has a more upbeat and boogie rock sound overall. Producer Mark Ronson, who produced Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk", was a big influence on frontman Josh Homme for the direction of the album. While there's still plenty of guitar work to be found on the record there's also an abundance of synth adding to the more pop friendly, dance vibe. This stylistic direction was especially prevalent on lead single "The Way You Used To Do" released back in June.
Despite Villains being composed of only nine tracks it sits at 48 minutes long. Showing that despite the change to a more light-hearted sound Homme and company aren't dropping their penchant for artful composition. Opening track "Feet Don't Fail Me" is an album favorite with it's hard hitting, bouncy rhythm and distinct QOTSA guitar tones leading the way. Lead single "The Way You Used To Do" sounds like a retro dance track that, while different for the band, fits their practice of taking influence from bygone musical eras and putting their unique spin on it. The track stays repetitive with its swing rhythm truly driving it home and Homme's sultry tenor vocals leading the composition.
Going deeper into the record there are a few tracks that sound more typical of Queens of The Stone Age's style. "Domesticated Animals" holds a simple guitar groove through most of its length and is one of the more bare bones songs on the record. "Head Like A Haunted House" holds an echo of the driving punk sound that marked the band's early records. Albeit with a lot of the modern production the band fuses their music with now. "Fortress" is one of the most mellow songs on Villains and is reminiscent of Era Vulgaris tracks like "Into The Hollow" and "Make It Wit Chu".
With Villians Queens of The Stone Age is further establishing their modern, 2010's sound they began with ...Like Clockwork. High production, genre exploration, and artful composition is all evident on the record. However, unlike their previous records, Villains is lacking the depth that a Queens album is usually known for. Especially on the later tracks. Individually each song is solid. But there's no blockbuster tracks that stick with you like a "My God Is The Sun" or a "No One Knows". And when put back to back Villains can lose your attention which has never occurred for me on a QOTSA album before. It's a solid effort. But for a bar as highly set as Queens Of The Stone Age have set for themselves the record feels a bit sub par.