Rated R – Queens of the Stone Age

Release Year: 2000

Rating: 9/10

Queens of the Stone Age rarely release bad albums. Their first two efforts are just as noteworthy as Lullabies to Paralyze or ...Like Clockwork. But what makes their sophomore LP so gripping is how they were beginning to change their sound to move away from the fuzzy guitars that took over their debut. This makes the album stick with you unlike their previous release.

Things start off with the short and simple “Feel Good Hit of the Summer.” The music is only part of what makes the song so awesome. The lyrics are nothing but a list of narcotics with Josh Homme screaming “Cocaine!” during the chorus. Though it’s just a list of drugs, it’s somehow so catchy you’ll sing it out loud no matter how weird looks you’ll get. Their stance on drugs is never mentioned in the song adding mystery to lyrics. Though it may be about partying, Homme has hinted it might be a jab at their stoner rock label, which is ironic because this song fits perfectly in that genre.

The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret” switches things up by opening with a slick groove riff that lures you in. It sort of has a pesudo Jazz vibe which blends in with the dirty, grungy guitars they stick front and center. Homme sounds sweet as ever as he sings clever lines like “You know the art isn’t gone/I’m taking my song to the grave.” It’s one of their great songs that has since turned into a classic for fans all over. “Auto Pilot” makes you stop and contemplate what you just heard. It has a completely different feel from the other songs since it’s on the mellow, softer side. It’s like you’re floating away while listening to it. Another change is Nick Oliveri provides the relaxed vocals. He actually sings several songs on the album and does a great job. With its trippy, psychedelic sound, it shows how the band knows how the slow things down without growing dull.

There are so many good songs here, it’s hard to pick which is the best. “Monsters in the Parasol” starts with a driving force and paints the odd tale of having sex wile on LSD with lyrics like “I’ve seen some things I thought I never saw/covered in hair.” It’s another one of their strange songs that manages to be catchy. “Better Living through Chemistry” starts off with chill bongos followed by a sinister, dark guitar riff that puts you on edge. Homme sings about the ails of prescription drugs in such an eerie way he almost sounds like a ghost. During the bridge when the music explodes and slaps you in the face, it turns into a jam session of sorts that trails off at the end.

Oliveri makes his return on vocals on the wild “Quick and Pointless.” The song moves at a frenetic pace as Oliveri rips into the lyrics in a violent and chaotic manner. As is the norm with their songs, this one has a darker tone as it talks about an older man courting a young woman even though he knows it’s wrong. Oliveri’s strong vocal delivery takes over the violent and slick “Tension Head,” where he seems to push his vocals limits. “In the Fade” shows another side to the band as they go for an R&B/soul infused sound. This gives the music a vintage groove from the 60s. This time Mark Lanegan is on vocal duty and sounds soulful as he croons “Live til you die/I know.” This is another track that puts you at ease, until the end which reprises the chorus from the opening song.

Though they started out with fuzzy guitar rock songs, Queens of the Stone Age’s second outing exploring their sound. There are still a number of tracks focused on the hard rock, impressive guitar rock they previously established, but they also incorporate elements of soul, R&B, even a hint of Jazz for a more satisfying experience. We find all the sounds they would continue to fuse into their music later in their career. Even before they recruited Dave Grohl and reached number one on the charts, Queens of the Stone Age were set on standing out from the competition.