Queens Of The Stone Age : Songs For The Deaf
It's the feel odd hit of the summer, and it's going to be very hard to beat
The myth is often so much better than the reality. It’s great to hear about the excess, but the hangovers are less often recorded. Great to hear about the drugs, but less to hear about the dependency. Brilliant to witness the amazing rock’n’roll, much less brilliant to be present at the soundcheck.
The achievement of Queens Of The Stone Age is to do all three: be masters of the myth, deal with the reality, and be masters of their rock as well.
‘Songs For The Deaf’, their third album, finds them capitalising on this unique position, and nearly all of what you might want from them and their music is here. There are great titles (‘You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar But I Feel Like A Millionaire’), displays of extraordinary rock’n’roll (‘A Song For the Deaf’) and great disturbing pop (‘No-one Knows’), and they all contribute to Queens‘ mystique. Having begun as a straightforward three-piece band, they’re now something else altogether. Their world – sexual, drug-filled, and occasionally paranoid – has become progressively darker, and as such we find them nothing less than guardians of the rock flame.
It’s an intoxicating story, and obviously one that’s no less exciting to musicians. So here, joining full-time Queens members Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri are – once again – former Screaming Trees singer Mark Lanegan, and Dave Grohl. Importantly, these are the sort of people who have seen a lot and done a lot, but also those who are pretty consistently on top of their
game. It’s a dream team.
So a voice announces “I need a saga…” and, sure enough, one begins. Of course, it takes in what are for QOTSA some routine stops – pills, punk rock, dark humour and death – but ‘Songs For The Deaf’ is an album very aware that these in themselves are neither empirically interesting, or even anything new. ‘No One Knows’ and ‘First It Giveth’ stamp a dark mood on the record that never quite lets up – instead, it creates a woozy, disorientating world of sound that attempts to find the most innovative way possible of visiting signature rock subjects. There are still moments of release here (there’s the great ‘Gonna Leave You’, ‘Another Love Song’ and the Lanegan-sung ‘Hangin’ Tree’), but the greatest achievement of ‘Songs For The Deaf’ is that it isn’t an album that tells you what it was like – this is one that puts you right there.
To be there with Queens Of The Stone Age is definitely weird, but undeniably thrilling. It’s the feel odd hit of the summer, and it’s going to be very hard to beat.