Preview Review — Queens of the Stone Age “Villains”

Queens of the Stone Age is about to release their first new album since 2013. Villains is due on August 25, 2017. Early press describes the Mark Ronson-produced album as danceable. Two tracks—“The Way You Used to Do” and “The Evil Has Landed”—are already available.  “Danceable” need not connote “full of funky clichés”: anything but, in this case. You can certainly dance to these tunes, but you should probably be the type that likes dancing to something sinister. If you’re also a rock guitar nerd, you’ll want to check to the intricate-but-never-fussy guitar arrangements.

The new QOTSA tunes may be danceable, but they are no less challenging than the material on the band’s earlier albums, such as the widely praised  . . . Like Clockwork. In both new tunes, the pulse is quick, the melodies are tight, the choruses arrive quickly, and there’s lots of energy, but even with the emphasis on catchiness, these aren’t predictable pop tunes. (Check the tunes out below. The animated vids aren’t exciting, but the music is.)

“The Way You Used to Do” opens with three separate guitars locking in around a handclap-and-kick drum beat, in what becomes one of the song’s recurring themes. Each new verse and chorus does as much to support variations on guitar riffs as the riffs do to support the vocals.

“The Evil Has Landed” features  a Zep-like riff that sounds like it’s played in unison by fuzzed guitars with octave effects. There’s plenty of fuzzed-out lead guitar throughout, including on a percussive bridge supported by thick bed of harmonizing guitar lines that blossoms into a raw-yet-melodic guitar solo full of unpredictable bends. After another chorus and a last verse, the song enters a double coda. The first coda section repeats a melodic figure that outlines Fmaj to Dmaj. When you think the song is over, the band jumps into an old-school Amaj-Cmaj rock ‘n’ roll rhythm guitar groove, with a check-back to the opening riff, and a last lead figure. Even though both songs are busy, they are hooky throughout and never meander.

Shortly after Villians drops, QOTSA will hit the road for a North American tour. First and last dates will be in New York: September 6, 2017 at the Capitol Theatre, in Port Chester, and October 24, 2017 at Madison Square Garden.

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