Villains Triumphs for Queens of the Stone Age

September 27, 2017

I’ve been a casual Queens of the Stone Age fan since the seventh grade, when their video for “Sick, Sick, Sick” gave me nightmares. They’re the kind of band I keep forgetting about and then coming back to, like an old t-shirt from high school that somehow still fits. In truth, I don’t know much about the band’s members other than lead singer Josh Homme, who, according to a friend who met him, is “super tall and smells good.” So naturally, I didn’t actually know about the impending release of their latest album, Villains, until about a week before it dropped on August 25th.

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Honestly, it’s the kind of album I would have picked up out of curiosity anyway—the cover art is like a fever dream straight from the mind of my 17-year-old self. It features a classic red devil on the back of a leather jacket-wearing man who looks a lot like a certain tall, good-smelling lead singer. Maybe I’m shallow—in fact I know I’m shallow—but that’s enough to sell me.

Luckily the band has more to offer than just cover art. The record begins with “Feet Don’t Fail Me,” a track that opens up with a two-minute-long melodic intro that sounds like a mixture of early Cure and late Sisters of Mercy, before jumping into a 70’s-esque dance track. It’s got that classic frenetic, noisy element Queens of the Stone Age is famous for, and it does its job of pacing you for what’s to come.

Track two, “The Way You Used To,” sounds like the kind of song that gets pumped out of the touristy clubs in downtown Nashville, and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s another dancy song, with lyrics that harken all the way back to Hank Williams’ “Why Don’t You Love Me.”

By far, my personal favorite track is “Head like a Haunted House,” which sounds, fittingly, a lot like the soundtrack to an old Scooby-Doo cartoon. It also utilizes a whistle effect similar to the one used in “I’m Designer” off the band’s 2007 album, Era Vulgaris.

Even if I had purchased this album solely for the cover art, it would have been worth it. Villains is a triumphant return for an excellent band—not too shabby for an eighth album. It’s not revolutionary, but not every album has to be, and its unpretentious “let’s get down to it” sound serves it well. - Hannah Barger