Villains, Queens of the Stone Age’s long-awaited seventh studio album, has been in the works since January 2014. After months with no news, and the band going on hiatus to work on separate projects, Villains was finally released to the public on August 25, 2017.
There was plenty of suspense around the release of Villains, given that the album took over three years to complete. QOTSA were relatively tight-lipped about their upcoming album, the only evidence being a teasing comedy skit they released in June 2017, which featured Josh Homme, the vocalist, being administered a polygraph test by Liam Lynch, a long-time music video director for the band. During the test, Homme is featured lying (badly) about the upcoming album, and viewers are given a short preview of “Feet Don’t Fail Me,” the album’s first track.
The choice to open the album with “Feet Don’t Fail Me” couldn’t have been an accident; the slow, eerie buildup of a steady drum beat and sludgy guitar, leading into the fusion of energetic guitar riffs and Homme’s smooth vocals, grabs the listener’s attention and anchors them there. The song begins with the lyrics, “I was born in the desert, May / 17 in ‘73 / when the needle hit the groove / I commenced moving / I was chasing what was calling me,” referencing Homme’s age (44), and the numerous years he’s spent on music projects. The chorus, “Feet don’t fail me now / one foot in the gutter / one in the clouds,” may be Homme’s way of asking the audience (and perhaps himself) not to forget about him — not just yet, anyways.
“Feet Don’t Fail Me” fades perfectly into the second track and featured single, “The Way You Used To Do,” a song filled with soaring, Presley-like vocals and foot-tapping guitar riffs. It’s clear why this song has some of the highest hits on Spotify; it’s catchy in a fresh, in-your-face way that compliments the album’s leisurely pace, especially “Hideaway,” and “Villains of Circumstance,” which retain some of the slow, almost romantic sounds from their previous album, …Like Clockwork.
One exception to this is “Head Like a Haunted House,” which sounds like a combination of The Dead Kennedys’ “Police Truck” and the Misfits’ “Dig Up Her Bones”; the funky, surfer rock guitar chords are entirely unlike anything else on Villains, and perhaps any of their previous albums as well. Characteristic of Homme, the lyrics “Say ‘man, don’t even think about it’ / push the pesticide / Xana-dos and Xana-don’ts” display his wild side; Homme is known for his “sex, drugs, rock and roll” outlook on life, and isn’t shy of broadcasting it to anyone who will listen.
Considering the length of time QOTSA have been together, Villains does a great job of avoiding staleness. All the songs are catchy in their own unique way, and carry their own style, while still retaining the classic sound that QOTSA has woven into their music since their first release. After numerous side projects, a hiatus, and seven studio albums, QOTSA prove that they know how to create an exciting and fresh take on their classic sound, and that their age has done nothing to hinder how hard they can rock.