Album Review: Queens of the Stone Age – Villains

By Maria Lubanovic, Staff Writer
[Matador; 2017]
Rating: 8/10

Key Tracks: “The Way You Used to Do”, “Fortress”, “Villains of Circumstance”

Villains is Queens of the Stone Age’s seventh studio album, and for once, the band has the same lineup from the previous album and doesn’t feature any other outside musicians. After some of the band members took a break in early 2016 to work on separate projects, the band got back together in January of 2017 to create their most groove-oriented album yet.

If you were expecting this album to start with a bang, you would be about half-right. The album opens “Feet Don’t Fail Me” with almost inaudible buzzing and squeaking before slowly winding into a hard and fast guitar riff, one that almost sounds like Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out”. It sounds almost exactly like that, they are even in the same key and almost the same tempo, up until the slow section at the end of the song.

“The Way You Used to Do” is a banger. The crunchy guitar riff, as well as the clapping percussion, make the only single from the album stand out. It’s an explosive relationship between the lyrics and the music, reaching for a relationship that used to be, and probably could exist again.

“Fortress” stands out as one of the slower tracks on the album, but also stands out in the tenderness of the lyrics, as opposed to the cynicism through the rest of the tracks around it; it’s basically a ballad in comparison. It has an unparalleled vulnerability, reaching out to those who need a place to feel secure, and offers the song as a haven for the people who need it.

The album has a focus on a groove that had been missing from their previous work, especially in “Head Like A Haunted House” where the guitar is paralleled by screeching synth and wobbly sound effects. It’s low key a Halloween jam, but a little more sickening in the lyrics. It’s followed by “Un-Reborn Again” which seeks the fountain of youth through its shaky and off kilter keyboard riff.

The album ends with “Villains of Circumstance”, a track that has been teased since it was first performed at a gig in 2014. The lyrics are more appropriate now than ever, as Homme seeks refuge from ‘villains of circumstance’. The music behind it is emotional and explosive, ending the album with almost a full minute of pure instrumental bliss.

Even though Villains is only nine tracks long, most of the songs clock in at over five or even six minutes, making each track feel like a serious effort to listen to. Many of the songs could have been just as effective without the last minute tacked on the end. That is probably the biggest downfall of this album – the feeling that it just keeps going.

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