When it comes to reviewing things, I’m always late to the punch. But with a lot of things, you need some time to listen and let things settle down a bit. Maybe you just need to absorb what you just watched. Maybe you need to watch, read or listen again. That’s definitely the case with the new Queens of the Stone Age album, Villains.
The first song I heard was their two singles, The Way You Used To Do and The Evil Has Landed. I didn’t really listen to them too much in detail because I wanted to hear the whole album at once, but I really wasn’t sure. Something felt off about them.
I pushed that aside. I also pushed aside the fact that three out of the four other people I share Spotify Premium with didn’t particularly enjoy the album at first. My mum (who’s an avid fan) was genuinely disappointed with her first try of the album. She almost seemed upset. She’s changed her mind since then.
The first thing I noticed though was that the songs, almost all of them, take a little bit to get started or a while to end. The first track of the album, Feet Don’t Fail Me Now, takes fucking ages to get started. The overall tone is much lighter than …Like Clockwork at first, but returns to that slightly depressed territory with a bit more eccentricity than before. It’s also more pop-y. I think a good description would be if pop fucked disco, then that child went and fucked the child of soft rock and alternative music.
Another weird thing was that, I don’t know, the lyrics and vocals seem less… inspired? No. Samey? No. I dunno. It’s weird. For example, the first two tracks start with very similar lines and beats and it feels the same with a lot of tracks. Fortress and Head Like A Haunted House both also sound rather similar at first. It takes a few listens to actually properly differentiate between each track and even then, it’s a tad tricky.
There in lies the whole album. You HAVE to listen to it a few times.
The biggest problem is that Villains is fuck all like Era Vulgaris or Them Crooked Vultures, and it’s not particularly close to …Like Clockwork either. It’s both bouncier and more drawn out at the same time. It’s not what people are used to, and it has very little in common with any of their older stuff, like Songs for the Deaf. You can’t really go into Villains and expect more of the same. This is something new yet something familiar.
The best tracks on the album, well, it’s varied. Mine are Domesticated Animals, Fortress and Feet Don’t Fail Me Now. The ones I disliked the most were Hideaway and Villains of Circumstance, but they’re both still perfectly listenable. Browsing other people’s opinions online, you get a bunch of varied opinions. For example, some think that Fortress was beautiful, others think it was sappy and rather lame. Of course, opinions are like assholes, everyone has one, so that doesn’t mean much, but it’s interesting to see.
At the end of the day, Villains is a grower. It will take a good few listens to really enjoy the whole album, but it also has no real weak points either. Every song is at the very least listenable. Once you get past the overly drawn out intros and outros.
Still a damn good album though.