Review: Jack Foley
WITH a name like Lullabies to Paralyze, you kind of
know that Queens of the Stone Age's latest album isn't going to
be easy listening.
What you might not expect is just how diverse it is, given the
changes the band has undergone in recent times.
It's a far more experimental album than Songs
For The Deaf, featuring elements of blues, acoustic-folk and
country, as well as the brutal power-rockers of old.
And for that reason alone, it must rate as one of the most daring
and brilliant albums of the band's career.
Having lost co-founding member, Nick Oliveri, last year, and
devoid of the presence of Mark Lanegan, Queens of the Stone Age
(QOTSA) now rely solely on the songwriting talents of the prolific
Josh Homme, yet his determination to explore the depths of music
ensures the band has lost none of its edge.
They are still capable of delivering a raw rock and roll monster,
such as opening effort, Medication, complete with emotive
lyrics such as 'just copulation in a song/ I'm so contagious,
can I come?', but now counter-balance it with bluesy, country-tinged
efforts such as Long Slow Goodbye, which finds the band
at its most reflective.
It's as though the recent changes in the band's line-up has forced
Homme to take stock of everything around him and to approach his
songwriting with a greater intensity.
Hence, you can't help but wonder if Everybody Knows That
You're Insane isn't really just a thinly disguised commentary
on Oliveri's departure - part homage, part attack, yet completely
sincere in its devilish approach.
The first half of the album threatens to run amok with the power
riffs and thundering percussions that have become the band's trademark,
with Burn The Witch an especially brooding, funky effort,
and recent single, Little Sister, a vibrant showcase
of the band's ability to deliver killer hooks wrapped around Homme's
Yet even some of the rockier moments have become more mainstream-friendly,
with the sped-up In My Head (which appears on Homme's
Desert Sessions project) an especially melodic record that would
probably perform well as a single.
Of the real album highlights, however, I Never Came
features prominently, emerging as an achingly poignant track about
broken relationships with Homme's vocals at their most tender
and the guitars at their most weeping.
It provides a refreshing respite from some of the heavier material
and hints at a more mature direction that can only be encouraged
Strong, too, is the blues vibe given to You Got A Killer
Scene There, Man, which features great vocal support from
guests Shirley Manson (Garbage) and Brody Dalle. It's a slow-builder
packed with shimmering intensity that is bound to become an instant
If that weren't enough, there's also the intoxicating Like
A Drug, which comes across like a sound clash between The
Doors at their haziest, and Chris Isaak as his laziest. It simply
Hats off to Homme and co, then, for delivering a richly versatile
album that manages to balance the playful swagger and rock 'n'
roll power anthems of old with a more personal and affecting style
of songwriting that's destined to win them over even more fans.
In terms of modern rock, Lullabies to Paralyze has to
rate as one of the most ambitious and inspiring efforts in years.
It is a monster that's not afraid to show it has feelings too.
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