Review Summary: Them Crooked Vultures definitely deserved the future, and it's bright.
First things first. From the tone of the guitars and the style of the songs, its clear that despite the fact its a 'supergroup' comprised of three members on paper, there's no doubt in actuality its down to one guy. The other two weren't just bystanders obviously, their impressive musicianship can be heard all over the record, but this may as well have been a QOTSA album. Which isn't a bad thing.
QOTSA are a band that have played with the blueprint set by ye olde contemporaries of his bass maestro band mate and have produced refreshing, original results. But then this isn't a QOTSA album review. So in that sense, the music is new, but nothing radically different despite what the deliciously warped freak show sway of 'Interlude with Ludes' suggests.
Not to say there's no change, there's a definite and definitely welcome emphasis on rhythm and boogie, the infectiously funky 'Gunman' points the revolver to the floor, tells you to dance and by god if you won't whereas the colossal 'Warsaw' evokes the image of a drunken gangster swaggering out of a speak-easy feeling on top of the world before the song descends into a spaced, echoing jam drenched in paranoia. Chicago has suddenly become a scary place and he truly laments swilling that last Cognac.
With this newfound emphasis comes the notion that the band aren't taking themselves too seriously and are having the time of their lives as 'Scumbag Blues' shows. A wonderful example of the chemistry of the band bubbling out of the flask as Homme's squealing guitar, Jones' toe tapping bass and clavinet and Grohl's energetic drum stomp meld seamlessly like a Scotch mixer, going down just as smooth whilst the cocksure strut of 'No One Loves Me & Neither Do I' and the charging 'Mind Eraser, No Chaser' are just plain fun. Sleaze laden lyrics provide the icing on the cake; 'I've gotta beautiful place to put your face’; a line slyly delivered by Homme's faux innocent falsetto with tongue firmly in someone elses cheek.
It must be said though that as the band members got so caught up in themselves at times, their jams may seem a bit insular in that they stretch musical ideas to their limits. I sensed some may become impatient and judge it to be meandering, but I consider them integral to the songs and no matter how much fun they're having, three prominent figures of rock can tell the difference between a lengthy jam and ego-boosting wankery. Least you'd hope. Additionally, 'Dead End Friends' benefited more from intelligent flourishes and production magic courtesy of Homme than actual substance, as if it done by any other band it would have likely been deemed as just an 'alright tune'. These are only minor niggles however, and detract little from what is an accomplished debut.
So! In conclusion, Them Crooked Vultures are one of the few bands with the name supergroup that actually live up to it somewhat through their output as well as their past achievements. The album isn't perfect, nor is it revolutionary. But it should be regarded as a new blueprint for hard rock, perhaps not to be adhered to but to be considered. They don't make rock like they used to, but some do still make it well. Though of course, this does depend a little upon whether you hold QOTSA in any regard. Perhaps it would have been better had all the members exerted an equal influence (Grohl has only one vocal cameo for instance) but we can only speculate. And after all, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
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