At my heart, I am a skeptic.
I was skeptical that Star Trek: Discovery would be any good, and that it wouldn’t piss all over the fans. (It was and it didn’t.) I like to share light doses of my skepticism with social media followers. One record I have been consistently skeptical about is the new Queens of the Stone Age, Villains. The first single, “The Way You Used to Do” did little for me. It sounded more like Eagles of Death Metal than my beloved Queens. Craig Fee over at 107.5 DaveRocks dubbed it “The Way You Used to Write Good Songs”.
Skepticism remained high, but vocal friends such as the trusted J at Resurrection Songs urged me to be open minded and give it a listen. Fast forward to September 2017. While browsing at my local Sunrise Records, one of the new Queens songs came on. I liked it.
“I’m going to ask her if this is the new Queens,” I said to myself, “and if it is, I’m going to buy it. On vinyl.”
It was and so that’s what I did. The song was called “Fortress”.
My fears were assuaged on first listen. “Mark Ronson’s a pop producer,” I thought. Ronson has probably never recorded anything as heavy as “Song for the Dead”, but the songs on Villains have their own heaviness. It comes from a deeper place. It’s not about the volume of the guitars and the speed of the drums, but the melding of parts in a simmering cauldron. Even “The Way You Used to Do” has grown on me. The stuttering guitars are layered brilliantly within that dance beat.
Villains‘ nine songs are a unique concoction, like Queens meets Faith No More meets David Bowie at the Apple store. You might miss Nick Oliveri or Mark Lanegan (who doesn’t?), but the current Queens are still lethal. Be lulled into the pulse and fuzzy landscapes of these new songs, and be slowly drawn to their unmistakable melodies. They have always been eclectic, and Villains is the latest in that tradition. With “Un-Reborn Again”, Josh Homme quotes from the Georgia Satellites “Keep Your Hands to Yourself”, on a song that sounds crafted from the leftovers of Van Halen’s “Sunday Afternoon in the Park”.
Why vinyl? For the gatefold vinyl and the graphic etched fourth side. Also for the rich sound and included mp3/Flac download.
If you are one of those who has a general “No Josh Homme” rule, this album will not convert you. If you merely skeptical like I was, then be fearless and delve right in.