So I meant to write this Friday when the album officially released, but being one of the few people
who did not listen to it when it leaked I was caught rather flat footed. Now I've done quick
turnarounds before, particularly with the How Did We Get So Dark review; the difference there was
that I knew exactly what my thoughts were after two listens. With Villains however, it's taken me a
little longer to get a grasp on this thing. This album features some of my favorite QOTSA songs of
all time as well as some that I can't stand.
Starting off we get a slow Stranger Things synth filled buildup that quickly turns into funk and
fuzzy masterpiece Feet Don't Fail Me. Mark Ronson's style is all over this track, with the heavy
compression and retro styling he is known for blending with QOTSA's Stoner Rock filth. This is
precisely what I was expecting after hearing The Way You Used To Do as the lead single. This song
also features a really slick solo and a dynamic end that fades out before turning into aforementioned
The Way You Used To Do (review here).
After a strong start we go into a somewhat darker track called Domesticated Animals. This track is
filled to the brim with the snark and wit that Josh Homme is known for, featuring cynical lines that
explore themes of dominance and power. The chorus seems to be commentary on the cyclical nature
of power and freedom; every revolution just leads to another leader to revolt against
(as illustrated below)
The songs' mysterious feeling is aided by it's 7/8 time signature adding an off kilter rhythm to it.
Homme appears to be using the metaphor of domesticated animals to allude to the way people
are essentially tamed by their leaders and governments.
The next track Fortress is one of my favorite songs on the album and is by far the most touching
thing I have ever heard from QOTSA. The song uses the metaphor of the heart as a fortress at first,
describing how people hide away their true feelings by locking their heart away. The metaphor can
then be linked to the first chorus with the line "every fortress falls" relating to a broken heart. At the
same time the rest of the song seems to be talking in terms of more general hardship and darkness,
likely referencing Homme's own depression.
Where the song takes a really touching turn is when you realize that at least part of the song is
written to Homme's children, with the lines,"...I pray you won't feel as alone as I have felt...I tell you
the awful truth, Everyone faces darkness on their own, As I have done, so will you" being particularly
heartbreaking. Homme then wraps it up by simply letting them know that even if their Fortress falls
they are always safe in his.
Following that emotional strong point is the track that only QOTSA could record, a slightly insane
track called Head Like A Haunted House. This song features Homme doing his best Elvis / Michael
Poulsen from Volbeat impersonation over the rest of the bands take on Psychobilly. I've heard some
people say the track feels out of place on this album, but I think it works perfectly as a call back to
the more typical QOTSA sound. While this song is fun and pretty solid, the same can't be said for
most of this album's second half.
Despite the strength of the album up to now, I just can't get in to any of the last 4 tracks except for
The Evil Has Landed (review here.) Un-Reborn Again and Hideaway are forgettable and Villains of
Circumstance is just kind of okay. So yeah, in total this album is pretty awesome; even though I don't
like most of the the second half of the album, the first half is so good I'm still recommending it. Plus
I understand my opinion on those 3 songs might not be in the majority here, so give it a listen for
Album on Google Play
Album on ITunes
Album on Amazon