Queens Of The Stone Age – ‘Villains’ Review

With Mark Ronson producing, Queens Of The Stone Age’s seventh album is a party starter

It’ll come as news to no one that Queens Of The Stone Age man mountain Joshua Homme likes a bit of a boogie. The bequiffed high priest of desert rock has always imbued his full-throttle stoner sound with a certain amount of hip-shaking sass, but on ‘Villains’, he truly lets his dancing shoes take the floor.

The heavy-duty rockers’ last album, 2013’s portentous ‘Like Clockwork’ was packed full of cameo appearances from their famous friends, Elton John and Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner included, but on album number seven only one guest has been allowed through the studio doors. Mark Ronson is the sharp-suited interloper, here to offer up his funked-up pop production skills after Homme decided he wanted the dry, tight sound the Brit showcased on ‘Uptown Funk’.

Those worried that QOTSA might have gone full Sheeran needn’t be concerned – this is definitely still the same band who came slinking out of the sand-strewn wilds of California in 1998. ‘Villains’ brings a smooth shot of disco to the band’s sleazy shtick, kicking off with the punchy ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me’, which bursts into vibrant, glitzy life after well over a minute of moody sonic foreplay. The sinister swagger powers on through ‘The Way You Used To Do’ and ‘Head Like A Haunted House’’s glam-tastic 1970s stomp. The pace slows for the meditative ‘Fortress’ and stealthy ‘Hideaway’, but this is still QOTSA at peak party.

Written after the tragic terrorist attack at an Eagles Of Death Metal – Josh’s other band – show at Paris’s Bataclan venue in 2015, it’s hard not to see ‘Villains’ as a response, offering up a vibrant kind of escapism. While not mentioning the incident directly, it heralds the power of partying as a release. As Homme told NME earlier this year, “Queens has always been like an ice-cream parlour or a video arcade. It’s safe from the bulls**t of the day. I’m not interested in being topical in that way, yet at the same time it’s completely about now.”queensThis, then, is the sound of living in the moment and it’s glorious.

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