Albums of 2017: 2) Queens Of The Stone Age – Villains

In truth I only listened to this album because Mark Ronson produced it and I have a soft spot for the Uptown Funk maestro. I imagine that news of this collaboration might have bemused long term fans and purists, but with the first single, The Way You Used To Do, being hipswayingly irresistible, it would be hard to argue against the kind of sales boosting commercial appeal that this track generated. Opening track Feet Don’t Fail is a further invitation to dance (within the confines of the aging process) and Josh Homme hits a Bowie-esque vocal on the line, “To be so civilised one must tell civil lies.” Incidentally Domesticated Animals has another Bowie moment, “Tell me where’s the goddam gold.” It’s good showmanship.

There is variety on the album as well. Head Like A Haunted House sounds like an energetic 70s punk band, complete with a super fast speed that your broadband provider would be proud of, vomit noises and an “Oy”. A bit of raw energy to see you on. Then Un-Reborn Again (which sounds suspiciously like very bad English) has an engaging cast of characters: Scaredy nose Jack (who knows nothing about nothing), Acid faced Jake (dancing straight boys make his pupils dilate), Abel loves scratch (who drinks water from the gutter) and most admirably Twizzy gon’ twitch (who says no huggee no kissee until he’s got the weddin’ ring). A lyrical riot, I imagine it was great fun to write.

The Evil Has Landed is a storming track – the verses do their own thing, but it’s the chorus that absolutely canters along – it’s verging on a gallop in fact. Then just when you think it’s done, it winds up for a belting rock finish. Final track Villains is a contemplative love song, the old issue of being too many miles from your beloved. The tenderness winds up into a screech of guitar to close the album.

While the album remains true to the Queen’s rock roots, the Ronson influence adds some pep and bounce to the genre which makes for a surprisingly engaging listen.

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