Review Summary: Queens of the Stone Age's best release to date.
Josh Homme is, was, and probably forever will be known as the Kurt Cobain of Stoner Rock (a subgenre of rock that was completely accidental) due to his work with Kyuss, but after the band parted ways, I can see where his mind was at making Queens of the Stone Age. He did not want QOTSA to be a Kyuss Klone (that's a real term) or anything of the sort, he wanted it to be different. He recorded one album under QOTSA before this, but it lacked depth. He then created this gem, much more diverse than anything QOTSA has put out to date.
Some of the reason why this album is so great is the experimentation. Many bands make good songs, but fall short to writing the same song over and over. None of the songs on this album sound alike, yet they all fit perfect together. The fact that an album can have a ballad like "Auto Pilot" and a wildly outrageous screamer like "Quick and To the Pointless" is awesome. The reason this album is so diverse is because there are different singers for different songs. It almost sounds like they have duties for singing (Mark Lanegan gets the slower songs, Josh gets the rockers, and Nick screams). They all pull it off oh-so well.
The album opens with the straight-forward rocker "Feel Good Hit of the Summer", consisting only a list of addictions (some also appear on Nick's shopping list): "Nicotine, valium, vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol", with a chorus of "Co-co-co-co-co-cocain". You can't exactly take this track seriously, it's a great opener. The next track, "The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret", is the most mainstream song on the album. It's the weakest song, but it is still great. It feels light in the verses and slightly heavier in the chorus, with very nice xylophones throughout. The lyrics are nothing special. "Leg of Lamb" is the first real stand out, with some of the best lyrics on the record. The drums are very creative, I love the use of tambourine. The guitar "riff" sounds like organized accidental noise in the verses, tasty in the chorus. There is also a 5 second guitar solo that is simple and random, but greatly complements the song. The song ends so abruptly you want more, but luckily there is "Auto Pilot" next. The first of two ballads, sung by Josh. He also did the drums for this track. The sound is day-dreamish with lyrics that match perfectly. The guitar riff stands out among the others, because the others have mostly guitar noise, not guitar riffs.
"Auto Pilot" perfectly flows into my favorite track on the album, "Better Living Through Chemistry". There is nothing not to like about this song, unless you have a small attention span and can's listen to a song more than five minutes in length. The song has the best drums on it, along with Josh at his best vocal-style wise. It is one of the heavier songs, giving an atmospheric feel to it all. Next is the simple rocker, "Monsters In the Parasol". Pretty straightforward with just a bit too many repeated lyrics, also one of the more lighthearted tracks. The repeated riff in the chorus is pretty great, also. The best part hands down has to be the pre-chorus "she won't grow" part. It just takes such a turn from the otherwise only-decent track. Before you know it, "Quick and to the Pointless" erupts into your ears, the first Nick song. It's pretty heavy-ridiculous and is another track not to be taken seriously. It starts out with Sarah Silverman-esque "Yeah yeah yeah yeah"s and Nick just screams about little girls and boys, borderline violent "oooooh, baby baby, you're so sweet, god damn *random screams*). Also sung around 10% in dutch.
The only transition that doesn't flow at all is the one between "Quick" and ballad number two, "In the Fade". I'm not exactly sure who picked the order of the track listings, maybe just to show how diverse they could be? Anyway, "In The Fade" is sung by Mark Lanegan, and my god, what a voice. The best way to describe it is just guitar-driven beauty. Hats off to the lyrics, also. Next up is the second Nick song, "Tension Head". This time, not as crazy, but still pretty ***ing crazy. Just tame enough to be taken seriously. The guitar beat is tasty and distorted, creating a grand wall of heavy sound. Another very short guitar solo, but needed. Next is just a two minute interlude of an undeniably nice sounding beat supposedly on a loop. The last track, "I Think I Lost My Headache", is one of those songs you have to be in a certain mood to get through the whole thing. Not that it's bad, but the ending with like 3 minutes of only brass undeniably gets annoying. It produces the most solid wall of sound, with great use of xylophones(?). The lyrics are pretty inspirational in their own way. Some of the breakdowns are a bit too long and can drive you away from the song.
The major con for this album is the lack of guitar solos. Some songs have them, but are extremely brief. They do complement the song, but they would do even more justice if they were longer. If there was a record for Josh to show off, this record would work great. Other than that and a few very minimal flaws, this still stands to be one of my favorite albums of all time.