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Queens Of The Stone Age

Matador, 2023

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


The Queens’ eighth studio album title is… a font joke. Really. It’s also their first album since 2017 and one of their most personal and hard-hitting outings in quite some time.

Much of that is due to singer/bandleader Josh Homme’s personal turmoil—divorce, cancer diagnosis, pandemic, loss of a good friend—but rather than wallow, he and the band turn in a hooky, hard-rocking album with enough twists to keep things interesting. Much like how Dave Grohl used the deaths of his mother and Taylor Hawkins to fuel the most recent Foo Fighters album (making it the group’s best outing in the last 20 years), so too do Homme and company come strong on these 10 tracks.

About the only thing missing from this album is the sort of snarky/stoner humor that colored Songs For The Deaf, long held as the best Queens album to date, but given its inception this is understandable. The best moments here do remind the listener of that album and its follow-up my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Lullabies To Paralyze, particularly the revved-up Black Keys stomp and vocal drone of “Time & Place,” the riffage of “Negative Space” and the swagger-meets-strings of second single “Carnavoyeur,” a dark left-field alt-rocker of the sort that these guys do so well.

Homme’s voice seems to have taken on a late-period David Bowie tenor, especially on “What The Peephole Say” and “Made To Parade,” giving the songs a bit more gravity than perhaps they deserve, while “Sicily” brings a Middle Eastern vibe and an unsettling atmosphere; I don’t know if it’s good or not, but it’s definitely interesting. And while there’s no dance rock or shine here—it’s definitely the rawest Queens album of the three-record Matador deal—there’s a beat and pop smarts to first single “Emotion Sickness,” especially in how the raw, chunky verse pivots to a lovely harmony-filled chorus. It’s not even close to a “hit single” in any definition of the term, and maybe Queens fans want it that way.

And then there’s the nine-minute closer “Straight Jacket Fitting,” which locks into a groove and one riff and just rides that sucker, stopping once for a cello-assisted solo, and featuring lyrics like “Oh, piss on the clergy, the new age heathens… The hand-made jury, cage-free corporate raiders / Patriotic, probiotic, deletist, e-racist / The world, yeah, she don’t need savin’ / ’Cept from you and me and our misbehavin’.” So that gives you an idea of the tenor here; the lyrics are understandably bleak, at times, but can you blame the guy? The song then closes with a two-minute acoustic/keyboard outro, perhaps to calm everyone down after the pounding of the previous 45 minutes.

What kind of Queens fan you are will determine what you get out of this album, because it’s not for everybody. If you just come for “No One Knows” and “My God Is The Sun” and other hits, there’s little here that you will add to your playlist. If you like the sludge with a hint of prog-rock and middle-period Zeppelin, then come on in.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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