Queens of the Stone Age, ‘Villains': Album Review
In hindsight, all of the changes and advancements on Queens of the Stone Age's seventh-straight winning studio album Villains make perfect sense. But as with all the best continuing art, you couldn't have predicted this is exactly where things would land.
Like its acclaimed predecessor, 2013's ...Like Clockwork, Villains is a tight, well-sequenced album that finds Joshua Homme and his bandmates moving even further from their already awesome fuzz-rock beginnings into more intricate and memorable songwriting.
For example, lead single "The Way You Used to Do" sounds like it was made out of about 50 more puzzle pieces than its older brother, 2005's "Little Sister." It's constantly shifting and changing directions, with something new grabbing your attention approximately every three seconds. But somehow, the 100 swinging light bulbs QOTSA let loose in this room team up in an elegant synchronized dance instead of ever crashing into one another.
Homme's voice also continues to get more expressive and impressive each time out. (It's amazing to go back and listen to how restrained he sounds on their 1998 debut now.) His full range, especially that gorgeous falsetto, shines particularly bright on the album's dynamic closer "Victims of Circumstance."
"Fortress," which finds Homme urging his young daughter to push forward through the heartbreak and loneliness everybody must face in their lives, also displays a new openness and honesty: "I don't want to fail you / So I tell you the awful truth / Everyone faces darkness on their own / As I have done, so will you."
Like the best slasher film villains, haunting '80s Stranger Things-via-John Carpenter keyboards pop up to throw you off guard throughout the album. They can appear both between songs and during them, such as the fantastic Abacab "Lurker" synths that take center stage in the middle of the swaggering "Un-Reborn Again."
Ultimately, Villains earns a high spot among the band's impressive seven-album discography by pushing even further into new levels of sophistication, weirdness and sincerity. And as always, Homme leaves us happily wondering about what he'll do next.
Queens of the Stone Age Albums Ranked in Order of Awesomeness