Review Summary: With equal parts of blues, funk and rock, Them Crooked Vultures creates an overall enjoyable effort that houses plenty of fun and charm.
Although I am not one to buy into the hype for so-called “supergroups”, I have to admit that I was intrigued when I heard the make-up of Them Crooked Vultures, consisting of Nirvana/Foo Fighters multi-instrumentalist Dave Grohl, Queens of the Stone Age front-man Josh Homme, and legendary ex-Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones. Given that Homme and Grohl’s previous effort together resulted in Queen of the Stone Age’s celebrated Songs For The Deaf
, I figured that their chemistry would only be magnified when coupled with the tasteful, creative basslines of John Paul Jones. With their self-titled debut album, does the music of Them Crooked Vultures live up the band member’s reputations, or does the content of the album give way to all the hype surrounding it?
Largely, Them Crooked Vultures is a rock group, but they incorporate heavy flavours of blues and funk. "Scumbag Blues" is a strong standout, with a jagged verse backed by a strong drum beat. "Mind Eraser, No Chaser" is well-done rock effort that sounds reminiscent to something by Queens of the Stone Age, and "New Fang" bounces along with a catchy chorus and a bluesy-rock thump. "Elephants" is also a stand-out song, as the complex, rocking intro gives way to an offbeat, funky verse and an inspired, layered chorus. The hybrid of styles really sound inspired in these songs, and the result is the kind of high-quality stuff that you could expect these guys to make when grouped together.
I must admit, though, that not everything found on the band’s debut album is as enjoyable. The problem is that, while every song on the album starts with a ridiculously strong rhythm and groove, sometimes the band doesn’t give you any reason to stay interested: they'll take the riff they started with and, more likely than not, beat it into the ground until it becomes stubborn and repetitive. Both “Reptiles” and the opener “No One Loves Me & Neither Do I” start off great, but as the same plodding riff cycles over and over again, it’s hard to stay enthused. All of “Dead End Friends”, “Spinning in Daffodils” and “Bandoliers" have great grooves and some cool parts, but they're largely uninteresting when viewed as a whole. "Warsaw..." actually progresses within its lengthy time frame, but not into anything that's really worth sticking around for. For the most part, these songs sound a little too underdeveloped and a little uninspired when compared to the album’s strong suits.
Lastly, there are some other great songs on here that are slightly hindered by Josh Homme’s vocal performance. "Gunman" is an intensely funky offering, but the vocals don't really fit all that well. "Caligulove" also starts off with an infectious rhythm, backed by handclaps and keyboards, but the vocals again suck some of the energy out. Although he is a great singer, Jose Hommes's vocal style doesn’t really fit the funky style of these songs, as he doesn’t really embody the energy or enthusiasm that these songs set out to achieve and he just ends up hindering some of the enjoyment.
All in all, Them Crooked Vultures have crafted a fairly impressive debut album. Those who enjoy repetitive grooves and are in favour of Josh Homme’s vocal style will absolutely find more enjoyment from this album, but I can’t help but feel that some songs sound way more inspired than others. I’m neither overly disappointed nor overly impressed with this album, but in the end, Them Crooked Vultures have succeeded in making a unique, fun album that is very much worthy of the reputations that created it.