Full of firsts and risks, ‘Villains’ pays off every time.
Label: Matador Records
Released: 25th August 2017
When a band reaches the very top, where do they go from there? It’s fair to say that for Queens Of The Stone Age, the ‘… Like Clockwork’ was one that helped defined them in a whole new light, a potent beast that took them to festival headline slots and arenas around the globe. A calling card that put Josh Homme on the very top of that rock pyramid as a frontman of immeasurable importance. So, as we were saying – following that? Embracing every extravagant and outrageous side of their swagger-funked ego, ‘Villains’ is a record that manages to grab everything Queens Of The Stone Age have built and ratchet it up to a level where boundaries or cut-offs are a ridiculous throwback. Teaming up with Mark Ronson, it’s an album that fully realises the show in front of them – and is bringing the popcorn to match it.
What Queens Of The Stone Age fully embraced in the live shows that followed the release of ‘… Like Clockwork’ was a commanding show of force that had you weak at the knees in awe of the sheer coolness and aura they emitted, yet at its core was a wink and a cackle in its vivd and raw power. ‘Villains’ dials up the flamboyance to a level that Queen would admire, laying out a scuzzy hip-shaking thrust that’s both jaw-dropping and unlike anything else you’d of heard this year. Opener ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me’ arrives to a two-minute pomp and hop swell of horns, chanting and synths that suddenly jolts into a bounding scratcher of a hook that rips the tape right off the bandage and leaves a fresh new scar. It’s the sound of a band tight, locked in and overflowing with ideas – from the clap-drawn disco of ‘The Way You Used To’, to the prowling spiral of titanium licks that is ‘Domesticated Animals’ and ‘The Evil Has Landed’ which manages to sound as visceral as the Queens’ debut LP ‘Rated R’ ten distilled through a 2017 body. Full of firsts and risks, ‘Villains’ pays off every time, going from one-end being the rough and ready sound of ‘Head Like A Haunted House’ (which could easily be the soundtrack spilling from a raucous garage session) to the panoramic shine of closer ‘Villains Of Circumstance’ like a toothpick flying through the sky. Effortless, graceful but with a spiky edge flying right ahead.
What ‘Villains’ manages to do is truly remarkable. It doesn’t just put Queens Of The Stone Age out onto those big stages again, it lays out the blueprint for Josh Homme & Co to build their very own. A staggering and rich snapshot of a band in their prime and boiling with confidence, the neon-blood that flows through these desert kings is feeding new life into everything around them. Stylish, cool as fuck and staring directly into the eyes gazing at them – Queens Of The Stone Age have the statement of rock royalty in their hands. Best get bowing. Jamie Muir