Review: Queens of the Stone Age’s “Villains”
Written by Alex Johnson on December 7, 2017
Artist: Queens of the Stone Age
Album Title: Villains
Label: Matador Labels Limited
Released: August 25, 2017
Queens of the Stone Age recently made a comeback with Villains, their first full
album since 2013–and with it, they’ve attempted to bring a new kind of sound to the forefront of rock and roll. The band is known for kicking down the walls between genres, blending elements of electronica and hip-hop with their work. Unfortunately, this last albums seems to rely on that part of their reputation too much.
Before I even begin criticizing the instrumentation itself, let’s talk about the voice: the vocals throughout the album seem to do nothing but take away from what could have been a solid sound from the band. Josh Homme, the lead vocalist, sounds weak, lazy, and disinterested, which is radically different from other songs the band has released in the past. You could argue that the careless, raspy, unenthused vocals are either a tribute to the sound of the late David Bowie or the group’s strict devotion to the “villain” theme of the album. Regardless, if it’s done on purpose, it’s overdone; if it’s not done on purpose, the singer may need to start buying coffee for before the group decides to have any more meetups at the studio.
In addition to the off-target singing, the group seems to be struggling to bring together the sounds that they’re looking for. In most tracks on the album, it seems like the band is using background synths and repetitive riffs to try to mimic the sound of EDM or electronica, but still maintain the heavy sound and raw instrumentation of rock. This doesn’t seem to work; in fact, it only seems to create a bizarre mashup of spacey-sounds and guitar riffs that falls somewhere between the musical pipe-dreams of a skater from the 2000’s and old Queens fans who were begging for anything new from the band, no matter how basic or redundant it was.
Despite these low points, the band has managed to bring an enormous amount of energy to listeners with its booming drums and screeching guitar chords. If you’re looking for some new tracks that can get you pumped up in the same way a movie or video game soundtrack can, then this album might be for you. But if you’re looking for spot-on genre blending, top-of-the-line vocals, and songs that don’t immediately get old or try too hard to sound innovative, then you might want to look somewhere.