Villains, the seventh album from Queens of the Stone Age, sees frontman Josh Homme – who in the past has produced Arctic Monkeys; helping the Sheffield outfit create a new sound – draft in Mark Ronson do the same for his own band.
When Homme worked with Arctic Monkeys on the record AM he said that it was an “after midnight sexy record” and Villains has that vibe to it. The opening track ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me’ has a bouncy and unconventional sound and that continues on to the next song and lead single from the album ‘The Way You Used To Do’.
From the first note, it is clear what this track is about. It’s a face paced, toe-tapping groovy piece. Ronson’s influence is clear to hear; the clap pieces that sit in the background give the band and the song a much needed change in direction. When a band recycles the same sound album after album, it gets boring. Very boring. The unusual pairing of Queens of the Stone Age and Mark Ronson have come from two different ends of the music spectrum and have made it work.
The next two tracks ‘Domesticated Animals’ and ‘Fortress’ are slower, but no less compelling – the latter a melodic, easy listening tune that suits the overall tone of the album, all solemn beats and infectious riffs. ‘Domesticated Animals’ is the first track that can be skipped but, thankfully, the best is still come.
‘Head Like a Haunted House’ is chaotic. The bass and guitar riffs are electric and reminiscent of the crazier sounds from the B-52s. The screaming in the background that wouldn’t be out of place from a 70’s horror flick perhaps has something to do with it. “A trutti-frutti written over the caption” and “Drink the Kool Aid” are just some of the strange lyrics contained within, notably sp when you consider some of the lyrics from Homme before – especially those from the Rated R days, but this is the new Queens of the Stone Age and whilst it’s not the particularly heavy QOTSA we’ve known in the past, it’s new, it’s refreshing, and, it’s enjoyable.
The rest of Villains doesn’t disappoint either. ‘Hideaway’ is another chilled-out effort that complements the surrounding collection – providing something of a necessary antidote to the frenetic energy offered by the likes of ‘Head Like a Haunted House’ or ‘The Way You Used To Do’, a sense of equilibrium to proceedings.
It’s a new partnership with Ronson and a new sound for the band, but from this output, it’s clear that the experiment has worked. It may take a listen or two, but it’s refreshing to hear Queens of Stone Age like this, Homme a fantastic musician and Villains a record that firmly backs that up.