Sunday, January 24, 2010

Album Review: Queens of the Stone Age - Rated R

Released in 2000, the second Queens of the Stone Age album was my first introduction to the band. I have to admit, I didn’t really want to like them. I thought the name was stupid and wasn’t really into heavy music in the early noughties.

The album begins with the ‘drug anthem’ – Feel Good Hit of Summer, which is basically a head-banging chant along list of drugs. Yet, it’s good. However it’s the less frantic songs which shine here: The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret displays a great sense of band dynamics. It’s a fairly mid-tempo number with a heavier guitars in the chorus.

Even so called ‘lesser tracks’ like Leg of Lamb still sound better than most heavy rock. Auto Pilot, the 4th track is one of the highlights. The song struts along with some great singing from mainman Josh Homme and a really tight band performance where not a note is wasted. It’s probably one of the poppier numbers but it’s a real classic.

The album picks up a bit after this with Better Living Through Chemistry which is a perfect vehicle for Homme to do his slightly sneery, slightly geeky rock god routine. The song lurches from tight, snappy verses and chorus to heavier guitar breaks. Monsters in the Parasol is an unremarkable song, and then there is a short Nick Oliveri song (ie screechy), Quick and to the Pointless which the title perfectly describes.

In the Fade features vocal contributions from Mark Lanegan, in fine voice here as always on one of the jauntier numbers on the album. After a brief interlude (another chorus of Feel Good Hit of the Summer!) we get onto Tension Head. This is another Oliveri track but it’s absolutely gripping. One of the heavier tracks on the album, it belts along at a rate of knots, while Oliveri screams his head off, culminating in the chorus where he roars “I’m feeling so sick, I’m feeling so f**king sick”, and it’s hard to get across in words how brilliant that sounds.

A two minute acoustic interlude, Lightning Song relieves this ‘tension’ before the final song on the album proper, I Think I Lost My Headache. This is a slow, vaguely heavy track, which goes on for quite a while before descending into a horn-filled, repetitive ending.

There are 3 extra tracks on the UK version, the best of these is You’re So Vague, a wonderful twist on Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain, which is catchy and delightfully heavy.

All in all, it’s a great album, and one which declared Queens of the Stone Age as having well and truly arrived. From here they became one of the most consistent heavy band of the ‘00s.