Queens of the Stone Age – Villains Review


Josh Homme isn't done tweaking Queens of the Stone Age's DNA on new album, Villains.
Matador, 2017
Purchase: Amazon

8.0 / 10

Queens of the Stone Age‘s last album, …Like Clockwork, stirred something awake in Josh Homme. Up until that album, the band was making good music but no longer great music. However, …Like Clockwork changed that. Was it Homme’s near death experience? Was it his decision to move the band from a major label to indie label Matador? Or was it revisiting the band’s self-titled debut? Hell, we could ask a million questions, but the answer doesn’t matter. Queens of the Stone Age are great again. And Homme continues this path of solid rock music with the band’s latest album, Villains.

Oh, he named the album Villains? It must be about Trump then, maaaaannnnnn. No, fuckhead. Actually, Homme’s reason for the title is it’s “a word that looks fantastic” and it’s “a comment on the three versions of every scenario: yours, mine and what actually happened.” So don’t go reading anything into it. While we’re on a whole honesty kick, Villains could be some of the most honest songs of his career. Here, he touches on his birth and purpose in life, the love for his wife, and even a message for his kids. Then, taking a step back from all the mushiness, there are some songs that absolutely rock with no intention other than to be chaotic. Just wait til you get to “Head Like A Haunted House”.

What I’m trying to say is that there’s something for everyone. Homme seems to be bringing in all kinds of personal influences and strange tastes that he previously felt he couldn’t do. Maybe past labels said it wasn’t dark enough or semi-metal enough. Matador seems to be letting him do whatever he wants. This means giving the album’s lead single, “The Way You Used To Do”, a big band swing style. It’s fun and extremely dancey for a rock song. So much so that you want to show off your footwork. The song itself is an affectionate love song about Homme’s wife, but he gives it such a grimy cool that you can’t bash it.

Similarly, “Fortress”, feels like a statement from Homme to his kids with the basic gist being for them to never let obstacles stand in their way. However, if they ever feel like they’re in too much trouble, then he as their back. Of course, you may just hear it as this strong rock song with a killer violins intro and Homme’s tender vocals pushing its chorus deep into your heart: “If ever your fortress caves/ You’re always safe in mine.” Some may bash it for feeling too safe, like something you would expect from Foo Fighters rather than QOTSA. Well, the next two songs will shut down those opinions.

When people often drop that term “rock opera”, that’s what bands are going for on a song like “Head Like A Haunted House”. Homme’s wordplay is twisted and fast, but the tempo is even faster. If it’s too much to keep up with, “Un-Reborn Again” presses the brake a little. But it does kick things into experimental overdrive. The song evolves into this Bowie-esque glam rock performance with brass horns and violins coming into the fold. As QOTSA’s seventh album, Josh Homme shows his peers how to progress late in their careers. Just have fun and everyone else will too.

About NK

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