Have Queens of the Stone Age sacrificed their old sound for success with ‘Villains’?

Catchy title, but Queens of the Stone Age are undisputedly one of the most successful rock bands of all time. Formed in California back in 1996, the group aren’t strangers to collaborations or success. Their last album ‘…Like Clockwork’ topped the US charts on release, the first to do so. That album featured Trent Reznor, Alex Turner and Elton John in guest spots, as well as the incredible drum work of new member Jon Theodore. I was lucky enough to see them tour the album that year, and they were utterly phenomenal live. So what could be the issue?

For many, the name Mark Ronson gives you a certain feeling. If you loved the Zutons, it may be an uneasy one. He seems to appear when a song or band needs a big commercial boost, most notably with ‘Uptown Funk’. You would be forgiven for thinking that was a Bruno Mars song; it isn’t! It’s one of Mark’s from his 2015 album ‘Uptown Special’, an album packed full of pop and funk sounds that sound like tributes to the past. It’s very different to what made him famous, and the song ‘Daffodils’ stands out as the best for me as the best on offer. He’s clearly a talented guy, but the thought of him producing the new Queens of the Stone Age album left many fans on edge.

The Verdict

The good news; Villains is an undeniable Queens of the Stone Age album, welcome and fitting amongst their six other studio efforts. Josh Homme sounds as clear and strong as ever, and the band sound solid around him. The bad; some of the magic has gone. I didn’t find myself losing my mind over the crushing riffs and drum grooves of old. In some cases, Jon’s drums sound so over-produced that they barely resemble the raw and aggressive sounds you would expect from the band. This is clearly more of a pop focussed outing, a new creative direction for the 21 year old band. Just remember to go in with an open mind, and you won’t be disappointed.

Villains is available now, and debuted at number one in the UK.

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