by J. Joe Smith
Josh Homme and Queens of the Stone Age offer their seventh album, Villains. Queens of the Stone Age certainly show that they have no interest in fitting into a niche. Throughout Villains, they keep things shaken, with a little help from the devil’s boogie shoes and producer Mark Ronson. Villains is not just a modern pop album, but there is a concerted effort to make the overall album have a groove and a focus on the rhythm section. However, don’t worry, all the quirky edges are still there and if anything, sharper than ever.
The first signal, “The Way You Used to Do,” is a good example of the focus of establishing a groove that feels good. A funky boogie feel that has a classic overtone of rebellious edge and honed with just the right amount of punk rock. Homme’s vocals are full of attitude and his guitar playing is remarkable. He is able to get a lot of sound from his axe, and there is just enough bite to be obnoxious, but in a really cool way. Jon Theodore lays down a mean groove, and even though he has been known to “get nice,” he did not on this cut.
“Feet Don’t Fail Me” is the opening tune, starting with guitar noises and other sounds, the groove finally shows its horns. A mix between punk rock, spaghetti western and ZZ Top accompanying David Bowe describes the vibe. The guitars sound is in your face and has a nice bit. The synthesizer riff is a nice touch. Homme’s lyrics are as prodigious as ever, and his song writing seems to even more on point, even though it is a little left of center.
There is a lot of substance to Villains, the attention to the details of groove, and the recording process that captures unique and specific sounds. Placing this QOTHSA album in a whole new realm. It might be with a little help from the devil, we don’t know, but we all get by with a little help from our friends.
Tracks to sample first: “Feet Don’t Fail Me,” “The Way You Used to Do,” and “The Evil Has Landed.” The song to take a chance on is “Domesticated Animals.”