Sometimes a pairing just makes sense, like a nice wine with a good cheese, or a wunderkind young producer with a rock band that knows its way around a groove. When Mark Ronson, producer of such hits as “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars and “Perfect Illusion” by Lady Gaga, decided to work together with Queens of the Stone Age, no one was really sure what to expect. Ronson was thought to potentially lend a cleaner and more commercial sound to the band. Some were worrying that he would take away some of the band’s offbeat image. Queens of the Stone Age, led by guitarist and vocalist Josh Homme, have always been known to play by their own rules, with various albums changing their sound over their many years of existence, and Villains is no exception.
From its first song, “Feet Don’t Fail Me,” Villains sets itself apart from any other past albums. Its introduction feels as though it could be featured at the beginning of a horror movie, with the pulsating bass line and dark keyboards conveying a dark and foreboding atmosphere. Slowly, however, the song morphs into a beat-driven monster of a song, with muscular drums and taut guitars pulling the song into orbit. The lead single, “The Way You Used To Do,” will get your foot tapping immediately with a beat that’s reminiscent of the classic early rock and roll songs of the 1950s. Energetic guitars play fuzzed out, peppy riffs, while Homme describes a love that has seen better days.
“Head Like a Haunted House” turns up the energy even more with a quick and punishing main riff that will leave you in the dust upon first listen. With punishing guitars and pounding drums throughout, this song will carry the listener on a joy ride in a fast car on a dark road. The mood of the album shifts to a more somber note on several tracks, including “Hideaway” and “Fortress.” Both of these songs deal with strong feelings during a relationship, while adding to the dark yet danceable vibe of the album. Eclectic and original in a style all its own, this album deserves to be in anyone’s record collection.