With their fifth album, Queens of the Stone Age continue to do what they know best: making kickass music and psychedelic guitar riffs. The difference here is their sound is heavier, groggier, and a bit on the slower side of things. Not only is the music stellar (as always) but there songs here are energetic, dirty, heavy, and awesome. It has some of their best singles along with some sleeper hits that deserve more recognition.
As usual, the music in some of the songs manages to sound drunken, dizzy and drugged out. This sound has been featured in their music before, but here it seems to be featured on the entire album. It could be because the sound is heavier on this record or that the QOTSA were high while recording. The odd song “I’m Designer” has a stumbling, drunken guitar riff that feels like it’s trying to straightened itself out, but always fails. The opening track “Turning on the Screw” is another song that has a slow, heavy beat with a riff that loops around itself to the point where it makes you dizzy. It can go on for so long you think the music is making you nauseous.
Most of the songs here are awesome. They are a bit slower than their material in the past, but the music is so intricate that it keeps you awake and interested in the song. “Into the Hollow” has clanging bells ringing throughout the song that adds a creepy edge to the track. The song is pretty mellow with hushed riffs and bass grooves playing against Homme’s sweet vocals. Though the song is slow, it never gets boring. Another great song is “3s and 7s.” This song probably has the best music on the entire album. It’s really hard to describe: the high pitched parts sound like the guitar is whining and it sends chills down your spine while the other guitars race through the song. And the solo at the end shows off Homme’s massive guitar skills.
One of my favorite songs is the slow track “Suture Up Your Future.” It starts out with everything sounding hushed from the vocals to the guitar. Everything grows louder after the first verse, but it keeps its slow pace. What you notice about the song is how the drums are more prominent here. You can hear them easier in this song and they’re just so powerful. I don’t know what it is about this song that makes it so great. The vocals are sweet sounding and soft, while the guitar rings out like some sort of alarm. See if you don’t fall in love with Homme when he coos “I’m gonna suture up my future.” It’s probably the slowest song on the album, but also one of the best.
A song that stands out is the closing track “Run Pig Run.” What makes this song so great is that the music matches the paranoid theme perfectly. Here, Homme sings “Run pug run/here I come” as if he’s trying to give you a chance to get away, but knows you won’t make it. The music races through the song as if it’s your nerves pulsating from running. There’s this one part during the bridge where the music turns playful and jaunty. It actually sounds like a bunch of creepy clowns laughing at you, mocking you even. Homme seems like he’s trying to be threatening, especially at the end when he says “there’s no safe place to hide,” but he appears to be enjoying it as well. Throughout the song he sings “Woo-hoo-hoo” like he’s having fun. It’s a dark track, but definitely one of the best.
All of the songs are enjoyable, but personally I hate the track “Make it Wit Chu.” First the title: is this a Pussycat Dolls song or something? Why that spelling and pronunciation? Also, it sounds like a cheesy soft rock song taken from the 70’s. Maybe it’s the fact that a piano is featured in this song along with softer drumbeats and guitar playing. The falsetto vocals during the chorus also add to this vibe. You can just picture all the guys crowding around the microphone singing the lyrics, while sporting porn mustaches. It doesn’t seem to fit on the album or with the Stones’ past material at all. This should’ve been a b-side, rather than a track on the record.
As mentioned before, the music on this album is heavier and groggier than the sound on their last one. The music feels like it’s been dragged through the mud ten times and it’s trying to pick itself up. The music is still intricate and complex as before, but the riffs have a dirtier sound. The music’s not only heavy, but it fuses different styles together. There are elements of punk, rock, blues, and groove found in the songs. The track “Misfit Love” seems to have a punk rock influence with it’s speeding guitars, while “Battery Acid” has a slight groove that gets your head bobbing and your toes tapping. It’s a little different for the band, but they manage to make it work so well.
Overall, the album gets 8/10. The songs are awesome as always and the music is massive. Though QOTSA play around with a heavier sound and different music styles, it still yields a great result. The songs may be slower on this album, but they never get dull. It may not be their greatest record ever, but it definitely doesn’t disappoint. Apparently, the band has been working on a new album for about two years, so let’s hope we get some new material from them soon.