Queens of the Stone Age Dial Back the Intensity with 'In Times New Roman…'

BY Spencer Nafekh-BlanchettePublished Jun 15, 2023

It doesn't take a keen eye to know that the world is ending. Wildfires in Quebec have made New York and parts of Canada a barely-breathable living hell. Political polarization appears to be at an all time high in North America, and a sense of paranoia is palpable in our newscasts and in the conversations we hear on the street. A sense of impending doom is nothing new to Queens of the Stone Age though; with the release of their self-titled debut album in 1998 and their sophomore album Rated R two years later, they were always plugged into society's penchant for darkness. 

Now more than two decades since their formation, Queens of the Stone Age provide new tunes for a new apocalypse with In Times New Roman…. The band has moved away from their roots in some regards, but remain completely the same in others; throughout its ten songs, the new LP takes their unique alternative rock to new dimensions, swapping uptempo rock n' roll jolts for a slow-yet-unnerving new groove. It's an album that's sure to please all listeners, but only truly satisfy real fans of the band.

Ironically, In Times New Roman… sounds its best at its fastest and most intense. This shines through on "Paper Machete," a fever dream of just over three minutes laden with harmonic distortion and an epic guitar solo in its final moments. Yet for the most part, Queens of the Stone Age take a step back with a more relaxed approach on their new LP, to mixed results. "Carnavoyeur" displays this new approach at its best, and the track's dissonance with Joshua Homme's unsettling crooning make for an extremely memorable chorus and one of the most unconventional songs the band has ever released.

At other times, the slower approach seems to tread in the realm of complacency. "Negative Space" is a slow alt-rock romp that feels languid and unconvincing — its chorus briefly picks things up, but you're dropped right back into the slow monotonous groove shortly thereafter. The nine minute closing track "Straight Jacket Fitting" is an ambitious conclusion and definitely has its memorable moments, but turns into what feels like a slog after the halfway mark.

Queens of the Stone Age dial back their intensity and step up their groove to develop a new sound for the end of the world on In Times New Roman…. For better or worse, it's clear that the band are not the same alt-rock anthem-makers they were in the Y2K era.
(Matador Records)

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