From spacey disco rock to fragile ballads, Queens Of The Stone Age‘s Mark Ronson-produced Villains is a powerful yet thoughtful album covering a spectrum of emotion. Eerie, synth-driven and dark, Villains begins with what could be the new soundtrack to hit Netflix show Stranger Things. Feet Don’t Fail Me Now soon perks up however, serving up a spacey ’80s vibe that brings both David Bowie and Raunchy to mind. It’s punchy psychedelic disco rock.
The more straightforward headbangability and the classic guitar riffs associated with these rock ‘n’ roll giants return in greater quantities with first single The Way You Used to Do, and bring danceability with them. Surely one to make their Top 10 hit list, the song builds towards a crescendo of foot stamping, beer chugging, head nodding rock ‘n’ roll; this is great songwriting.
Domestic Animals follows, a tune with a distinct marching vibe. It urges us to revolution, but the uprising fails somewhat, as things then get a little too comfortable. That sense doesn’t last long, however as Fortress is along next and stakes its claim as one of the best rock ballads of the year. Slower, but full of love and loneliness, hurt and comfort, it is a gorgeous song that, with soothing lyrics like “if your fortress is under sea, you can always come to me” like a nice heavy metal mother, wraps us in a blanket of reassurance.
Head Like a Haunted House spells out more classic QoTSA rock, complete with a fast paced beat, ghoulish guitars and an air of panic. It is easy to imagine a music video set in an abandoned castle dressed in Halloween decor: it’s fun, and yet lyrics about drinking the cool aid seem to comment on the stresses of our time.
Un-Reborn Again is another track that verges on the edge of dull, however the dreamy humming bit sticks and has great singalong potential. It could be sung in chorus by concert goers heading out into the night after an awesome live performance. Hideaway takes on that Stranger Things vibe once more and sees us floating in a fever dream of synth, guitar and soft spoken lyrics, whereas The Evil Has Landed is a sexy, rock ‘n’ roll banger after best QoTSA recipe, revving up in energy as the track steers on into a crescendo of great proportions. The perfect car song, and yet another great live track, no doubt.
After a rollercoaster of musical emotion, stunningly dreamy rock ballad Villains wraps up an album that has it all with an epic climax. As an advert for seeing the band live, this album could not have been executed with more panache.