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Queens of the Stone Age – Villains

The new Queens of the Stone Age album starts out okay, the first track is pretty good, but then the whole thing spirals out of control very quickly.

“The Way You Used To Do” is more or less the single off of the Mark Ronson-produced Villains, and while the track sounds great in sonic sense, it doesn’t sound like the QotSA fans know and love at all, and it certainly doesn’t kick ass by any stretch of the imagination.

Ronson really spends most of Villains trying to make Queens of the Stone Age into some kind of modern day reincarnation of Queen, but on “Domesticated Animals” they hone in on more of a David Bowie-like sound and it really works for them here, making for one of the few tolerable tracks on the record. Making more sense is the simple yet noisy “Head Like A Haunted House.” This is in their wheelhouse right here – loud, frantic, raw, and eerie sounding – and is honestly the least produced track on the record, as if Ronson just said, “Yeah, that’s good,” and went out to eat or something.

“Un-Reborn” carries on in the same tradition as “Head Like A Haunted House.” Well, at first at least…then the track goes downhill. It also goes on and on forever. QotSA have this quirkiness to them that almost can’t be explained, but they’re not some jam-band, and it seems like producers, critics, even their fans want to put them in this jam-band pigeonhole sometimes. Ronson tries to turn QotSA into a Queen/jam-band hybrid by the end of this song, but it just turns into a pile of unnecessary busyness that sounds like an utter auditory abortion.

Elsewhere, “Fortress” is a generic, hookless rock song with lots of bells and whistles that cover up for that fact that it’s just a generic, hookless rock song. “Hideaway” is nothing but complete fluff, so soft that you forget that you’re even listening to a rock band. On “The Evil Has Landed” (such a corny name by the way) Ronson once again believes he’s working with Queen and not Queens of the Stone Age. This whole trying to emulate Queen motif is not working and does not suit the band well at all. This song also drags on and on, over six minutes of pure misery for the listener.

They try again one final time on “Villains of Circumstance,” and they manage to just barely pull it off. The song structure works here. It’s not too overly produced, but it almost is. This song is long, it’s at that long-and-drawn-out six minute mark again, but this time it makes sense, because it’s the closing track. Thank God it’s over!

This album is clunky, confusing, and cumbersome. Here you have separately an okay band and an okay producer, but put them together and it’s a trainwreck. Some folks just don’t mesh well. Still, I’d love/hate to be a fly on that studio wall with that much arrogance and ego afoot in the same room during the process of making this record. Josh Homme from QotSA and Mark Ronson are both known to be colossal douchebags.

Queens of the Stone Age