The Oracle

“Villains” marks band’s energetic return

Aidan Celner, columnist

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Lead singer Josh Homme and the desert rock powerhouse Queens of The Stone age return with flair on Villains. This is one of their most upbeat records to date full of bluesy guitar riffs, synths and all the swagger you could ever need dripping from Homme’s voice on songs like “The Way You Used To Do” and “The Evil Has Landed” that pair well with slow burners such as “Fortress” and “Villains of Circumstance”.

With a pair of great singles (“The Evil Has Landed” and “Feet Don’t Fail Me”) leading up to the release  and Mark Ronson (who also worked on Bruno Mars’s “Uptown Funk”) on production, the album was definitely something to be excited about.

It kicks off with the group building an atmosphere with synthesizers, horns, strings and everything but the kitchen sink before launching into the grimy and funky “Feet Don’t Fail Me”. This song runs seamlessly into the hand clapping, head bobbing energy of “The Way You Used To Do” which in my opinion is the grooviest song on this album. Homme’s voice is so suave that it can’t help but captivate you as he croons over the fuzzy guitar riff and hand claps.

The energy of the band doesn’t let up until the song ‘Fortress,” which is a sweet ballad that Homme wrote for his children. On this track, he reassures his kids that no matter what challenges life throws at them, he will be there for them; he’ll be their “fortress.”

The remainder of the tracks balance the energy very well and do wonders for the feel of the album. The calculated and precise approach to the hills and valleys of pacing on the tracks is truly commendable.

Now, I’d love to say that this is a perfect album, but that wouldn’t be true. First off, Mark Ronson’s production on this album is not up to snuff. It’s quite flat which adds little intrigue to the album, and gives it a sterile and bland feeling that makes some of the instrumentals hard to get into.

The group is known for a purposefully bare-boned type sound, but Ronson made some of the instruments (namely the drums and the bass) hidden in the background. It’s tragic because the lyrical themes are more raw and touch on everything from sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll to depression and even to his children. The sound is not fitting for them like it was on their last album …Like Clockwork.

Furthermore the short length of nine songs isn’t out of the ordinary for the band but after a four year wait, I wanted more. I think this was them taking the easy way out knowing fans would be satisfied with whatever they put out.

All in all, this is an applause-worthy release and despite its shortcomings is one of their best albums to date. Queens of The Stone age improve themselves on every release and this one is no different. In the end, the production issues and lack of songs are a bit of a downer, but the overall performances and palpable energy make this album four out of five stars for me.


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“Villains” marks band’s energetic return