Ever since Queens of the Stone Age's seventh studio album, Villains, was announced via a staged polygraph test, much has been made about its title. Does it refer to the American President and his White House henchmen? The terrorists who tormented his friends in Eagles of Death Metal, as well as hundreds of concertgoers back in Paris?
"The title Villains isn't a political statement. It has nothing to do with Trump or any of that shit," frontman Josh Homme said in a press release. "Everyone needs someone or something to rail against — their villain — same as it ever was."
On Villains, that "something" may be their past, as the detuned desert rockers craft one of their lightest, most accessible records to date.
Working alongside superstar producer Mark Ronson (Bruno Mars, Amy Winehouse), the band create danceable and delectable funky fuzz-rock on tracks like "The Way You Used to Do" and the Damon Albarn-esque "The Evil Has Landed," a striking synth opus (complete with string section) on "Un-Reborn Again" and, surprisingly, even a few autobiographical numbers, like candid album opener "Feet Don't Fail Me Now," which finds Homme reflecting on his musical beginnings and recently regained lust for life.
Speaking of which: In a 2013 interview with The Skinny in support of …Like Clockwork, Homme said he envisioned the band's next album as being something similar to the "point-counterpoint that [Iggy Pop's] The Idiot and Lust For Life are."
Four years on and with an army of keyboards in tow, Homme — who actually took a detour with half of the band between albums to work with his idol — mostly succeeds in accomplishing his vision, making an album that dazzles in contrast to the previous album's darkness. But, much like Pop's Berlin period output, it's the kind of record that will most likely be misunderstood, at least initially, by fans of the band's previously visceral and primitive sound. Cool and calculated, it's sure to rub listeners who are anything but the wrong way. (Matador)