At first glance Villains is as enthralling as it is complex. Plastered in a sort of glossy fuzz, the album bobs and weaves in-between groove and ambiance without a care in the world. The sort of slow build-up to opener Feet Don’t Fail Me as Josh Homme croons as beautifully as he ever has encapsulates the entirety of Villains; rock and roll in its purest form. And although Queens of the Stone Age don’t quite reach the dizzying heights of their previous effort …Like Clockwork, they sure as hell don’t care. A sly smirk that hangs over every song, glad you could join in for the ride.
What has always made Queens Of The Stone Age so worthwhile is the charisma lead vocalist/guitarist Josh Homme always brings to the band, and there is plenty to be had throughout. He continually soars over the top of his omnipresent guitar leads, and it perfectly melds together with the backbone of the remaining instrumentals. Harkening back to their more stoner-esque albums, songs like Domesticated Animals and Un-Reborn Again plod along at a leisurely pace without overstaying their welcome. Both songs are a perfect blend of catchy and intricate, and bring home the more rock & roll vibe Villains successfully achieves. The production throughout the album is an interesting but much-needed element; guitars have a sort of glossy fuzz placed over them at times, enabling them to seem far more, well, catchy. They shine throughout the album, and never seem uninteresting, particularly on tracks like The Way You Used To Do and The Evil Has Landed.
The longer run times of songs also play an important part in the progression of tracks. Six of the nine tracks are five to six minutes long but don’t feel overly long or drawn out. Instead, the band uses this time to really build up the atmosphere of each track. The always thumping bass and drum track adds another much-needed element to the Villains formula, but perhaps tend to sit far too back in the overall mix of the album. This, however, proves to be intentional; the dual guitar combo is always catchy in all of its fuzzy goodness, and really carries the atmosphere each song builds. And even when tracks don’t last long, they prove to be catchy goodness that really adds variety to the album. Both The Way You Used To Do and Head Like A Haunted House. The latter goes a mile a minute, with a thumping bass line accompanied by the dual-guitar attack, whilst the former is captained by a more-straight forward guitar-led groove as Josh Homme’s ever-fantastic falsetto leads the track through.
And as it all comes together on the far moodier closer Villains of Circumstance, it leaves the listener in awe. For a band who has existed for well over twenty years, it’s extremely exciting to see such life still left in them. Although it lacks the monumental highs of …Like Clockwork, it measures up significantly well in every other aspect. With a fantastic rock and roll edge, an ever-fantastic Josh Homme vocal performance, and a near-perfect instrumental backing, Queens of the Stone Age continue to prove that you can’t pin them down, and that’s exactly how we like it.