by Dillon Meehan
Josh Homme is one the world’s last modern rockstars. The lead singer and guitarist of “Queens of The Stone Age,” has spent his entire career carrying the mantle of hard rock, and on Villains, he continues to do his job.
QOTSA have never been one to have a traditional sound, with each album having its own unique twist. But on Villains, Homme decided to bring in Mark Ronson, of Bruno Mars and Amy Winehouse fame, to deliver an album which characteristically sounded entirely different, while also creating a new genre that somehow makes hard rock groovy.
Music today is focused far more on pop and hip-hop, and less on rock than ever. It has become popular to utter the phrase “rock is dead,” over the past decade or so. However, it would be a good idea to not utter that phrase around Homme, who told Rolling Stone that he left Interscope Records after “somebody way up” uttered those words to him.
Villains begins with a slow, near two minute build-up of synths and drums orchestrated by guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen on “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” before colliding head on with a thunderous riff and Homme’s vocals.
The opening track is a story of Homme’s early life in the California desert and his music career.
“Life is hard that’s why no one survives, I’m much older than I thought I’d be,” Homme declares, as he alludes to his death on an operating table seven years ago before being resuscitated. “Future tense meets middle finger, we took the long way home,” Homme shouts as he continues to live his life in the moment, never bother to look ahead towards the future.
“The Way You Used to Do” appears second on the album and was the first single released on June 14th, the same day the band announced the new album.
“When I first met her she was seventeen, jumped like an arsonist to a perfect match, burned alive,” Homme says as he tells the story about how he met his wife, Brody Dalle, at Lollapalooza in 1997.
“Is love mental disease or lucky fever dream? Fine with either. Gave birth to monsters who will terrorize normalcy,” in the second verse Homme talks about his wife and their three children, Camile, Orrin and Wolf.
“Fortress” is the fourth song on the album and tells the story of Homme offering guidance to someone. While Homme or any other member of the band hasn’t confirmed it, it is likely about his daughter Camile. The album art for “Fortress” features a young girl wearing a black leather jacket, very similar to one the one Homme usually sports.
“If your fortress is under siege you can always run to me,” Homme declares near the end of the song, showing that he will always be there for his daughter, regardless of what happens.
The penultimate song on the album, “The Evil Has Landed” optimizes the traditional Queens sound and the albums new direction. The album’s second single opens up with a catchy riff and a prolonged intro, reminiscent of some of their biggest hits.
“Going on a living spree, any wanna come with me? You don’t wanna miss your chance, near life experience,” Homme starts the single in his traditional falsetto voice, it’s a clever choice to change the popular phrases killing spree and near-death experience. It echoes lyrics of 2011’s Smooth Sailing” off of …Like Clockwork.
It’s a six and a half minute epic which sees the final 90 seconds turned back on its head. “Here we come, get out of the way. Matters not, what the people say,” Homme shouts as he fires away on his guitar. Reminding fans that Homme is rock’s ultimate antihero and will never dabble into the mainstream.
Villains is QOTSA’s shortest, and probably most accessible album to less hardcore fans. It certainly isn’t as good as 2002’s Songs For The Deaf, but an argument can be made for it being the second best album the band has ever put out.
With pop music sounding more similar each day and artists continuing to rely on aspects go EDM, it’s refreshing to see a band push themselves in a new direction, while also not relying on the same tropes as everyone else.