Not Trailblazing But Still Great
For about 20 years now, Queens of the Stone Age have been churning out energetic slices of muscular, edgy garage rock. They’ve been doing so far less frequently this last decade, as Josh Homme and company have only released three albums in the last ten years: 2007’s Era Vulgaris, 2013’s …Like Clockwork and now Villains in 2017.
The band’s return to the music world results in a product that is somewhat similar to their signature driving style, but instrumental-wise they’ve added slightly more fuzz to the guitars, added a few keyboards and messed around with some dance-influenced beats. Homme has said in the past that they take a fair amount of influences from the repetitive nature of electronic music and the fact that most of their songs are well over 5 minutes long with consistent and steady vamps is a prime example of that.
The band worked with British producer Mark Ronson, which is a slightly unconventional pairing given that Ronson is known for ‘Uptown Funk’ and other pop songs, rather than for working with rock bands. Homme stated that the airtight pop of Ronson’s mega-hit “Uptown Funk” was an influence on his songwriting for Villains which is proven by the danceability the album. Other than that it’s still a Queens of the Stone Age record; the guitars and vocals are pretty standard fare and as usual, very good.
The album only consists of nine tracks and opens with “Feet Don’t Fail Me,” which begins with large amounts of static and buildup before turning into a dark and ominous funk groove over which the riffs are snarly and Southern-style. Lead single, “The Way You Used To Do” is next and sounds right out of the ZZ Top catalog. Handclaps throughout add a playful touch to the bluesy nature of the album’s second song. Other highlights from Villians include the punchy 7/8 beats in “Domesticated Animals,” the fuzzy punk of “Head Like A Haunted House,” and the dreamy shuffle of closing number “Villains of Circumstance.”
At this point in Homme and Queens of the Stone Age’s long career it’s a pretty safe bet they won’t be going in bold new directions with their future releases. Villains offers just enough variety from their previous discography to show everyone that they still have the creativity to throw in some new surprises. The most important thing, however, is that they know how to make a good record, and that’s something Villains certainly is.