Los Angeles punk crew hit a sweet spot between hedonism and poignancy on a multi-layered second album
Eagles Of Death Metal
Three records in, Jesse ‘The Devil’ Hughes has built an entire career on acting like a Life On Mars-style unreconstructed male, teleported through time from an LA where Stealer’s Wheel still blare from every AM Radio and where every night is Ladies’ Nite when he’s in town.
In the background, childhood friend ‘Baby Duck’ (better known as Josh Homme) returns once more as EODM’s other 50 per cent, drumming and producing. As ‘Era Vulgaris’ saw Queens Of The Stone Age move further towards the avant garde, it sounds like Josh is having more fun than ever with his safety valve.
While The Devil still writes the best tunes, it’s Baby Duck’s details that make them come alive, as when the ‘Brown Sugar’ glam chops of the title track explode into a QOTSA chorus, complete with Homme’s distinctive falsetto harmonies and angular precision-riffing. Similarly special are ‘High Voltage’, which lies strapped to a molten Queens bassline, and ‘I’m Your Torpedo’, where rubberised drums work the ‘Rated R’ camp desert-rock look.
The pair have upped production values sharply from previous efforts: no longer lo-fi, there’s a detail, especially in the percussion, that belies the obvious Stones comparisons. No longer concerned solely with matters of the front bottom either, Jesse has themed this one around another boogie-rock crutch, the love letter to LA. “This one is about hitting that slipstream in Los Angeles. Swimming strong when you’ve got sinkers far as the eye can see,” as he put it, defined by the ZZ Top rollick of ‘Wannabe In LA’.
As ever, there are puns a-go-go, from ‘Cheap Thrills’’ menacing strut of “Can’t afford no/Cheap thrills” to ‘Solo Flights’, a genuinely trenchant ode to whacking off. Few songs can have ever sounded this mournful and also contained the line “No one’s gotta hold my hand, it’s got a full-time occupation”.
Ocasionally, the shtick does wear a little thin and they lope off towards water-treading mid-pace. The line between parody and genius is always going to be fine. In one sense, they’re still a Tenacious D-style joke band, but it’s long since become a very well-told joke. And, unlike the D, it’s still a joke with legs (that naturally go “all the way to the top”).
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