Ever since their announcement video debut, Queens of the Stone Age has been pushing and promoting their newest album, Villains, like no other album they’ve released. They’ve teased, released sneak peeks, snippets, interviews, and more. Finally, last week, Villains dropped. Having pre-ordered the album upon availability (in order to secure the pre-released track, The Way You Used To Do), I wasted no time diving into their latest release. I was lucky enough to force myself out of bed that morning for my semi-regular workout, and decided this would be the perfect time to test drive some new music. On an uncharacteristically brisk morning, while it was still dark outside, I put in my headphones, and was immediately immersed.
The album begins with Feet Don’t Fail Me, and it’s an incredibly strong start. The track is energetic, it’s fun, and it’s 100% Queens of the Stone Age. From there, the album flows organically from song to song, through to the end. This album is probably QOTSA’s most cohesive collection since Songs for the Deaf, in the way the songs seem to connect to one another. The order and emotion within the music feels like there’s a story they’re telling, or maybe it’s just me. Ultimately, each song is unique and fresh within itself, but they all have that classic Queens feel, as well. There’s certainly some other influence, as you can feel Josh and his compatriots drawing on experience from their other side projects, and it all just works so well together. I feel I must also mention how well Josh’s voice resonates on this album. There is a very raw, natural sound to the vocals that really stands out from previous albums. Similar to their previous album, Like Clockwork, this makes it an easy album to sing along to, once you get the lyrics down.
In the weeks leading up to the release, I read a lot of criticism toward the band. There had been an outcry that they are “selling out”. I read from some who (supposedly) got to listen to the album early, claiming that it sounds terrible. Unrecognizable as Queens. I was rather confused, at first, as the few snippets I had heard so far resonated for me back through their entire anthology, it was so blatantly Queens. Then, I started reading further into their “analysis”, where they liken the new album to Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, and others. These lists of names started sounding rather familiar, and I remembered the announcement video, outlining many of producer Mark Ronson’s past projects, and the picture became much more clear. It sounds as though many fans are dismayed by Queens of the Stone Age aligning with a big name producer who has worked with so many artists that they don’t appreciate.
Josh received further criticism for the music video released for The Way You Used To Do, because the video heavily features Josh showing off his sweet dance moves. Long time, and supposedly devout fans, could not come to terms with the idea that their favorite performer likes to move his feet, like some kind of pop star, as if he never dances on stage. However, in an interview with 1Live, Josh gives a small breakdown of each song on their new album, and explains about The Way You Used To Do that he doesn’t “understand why the ‘danceability’ has left rock and roll music”. And this makes sense – most fans of Queens of the Stone Age are probably not looking for something to dance to. However, just because they make fun, danceable tracks does not make them Taylor Swift. Again, the song, as with all the songs on their album, still contain as much of the heart and soul of the band as we’ve seen on previous albums. If you watch or read any interview with the band pertaining to this album, you’ll realize just that.
In summation, this album is great. It’s energetic, its passionate, and it’s fun. I highly recommend giving it a listen, and the album has been posted, in its entirety, to a playlist on the Queens of the Stone Age Youtube channel. Give it a listen, and give us your thoughts. Also, make sure to check and see if they’ll be visiting a city near you sometime soon. Their performances are always something to remember, I guarantee it.