Review Summary: An excellent stoner metal offering by the successors of Kyuss, and a relic of the early millennium in hard rock/heavy metal.
Car engines, radio lightly blaring, & radio jockeys introducing everyone to QOTSA's breakthrough album are what opens up You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire. Dave Grohl, the guest drummer for the album, builds up the crescendo into the incredibly heavy stoner metal riffs that follow. Nick Oliveri, one-time bassist, then begins screaming into the microphone about B-grade movies. The imagery of headbanging to the sound of groovy music while driving in a cadillac convertible is conveyed (at least to me). Josh Homme is the softer singer of this era of the band, and he helps make the intro song what it is.
After that song closes with a confident yowl from Oliveri, the smash hit No One Knows (which is sometimes featured on my local radio stations, surprisingly enough) kicks in. Homme takes over in the vocals department, Olivieri cooly working with his ominous bass instead. The 'heavy' factor is enormous here, especially if you play this song, and album, with a sufficient application of bass sound. This is no frills stoner metal, and it's a fun tune, deserving of its smash hit status.
However, my favorite song on the album, First It Giveth, is the next on the playlist. Dave Grohl hammers at the drumkit, giving the song a tight groove. Meanwhile, the stoner riffs take on an almost atmospheric quality. When the tempo slows down, the riffs don't quiet down; they do the exact opposite. There's even a decidedly 'desert rock' touch to the track which makes it one of the best tracks on the album. It's very simple in design and output as well. Who said that you need to be technically complex to make for top quality music?
The riffs are the main star of the following tune, A Song For The Dead. They've got a menacing tone here, supplemented by Homme's fun vocal stylings. Tempo-wise, it's been cut in half, but that doesn't make it less fun than the previous song. Josh Homme's guitar work blesses us with a good-natured solo at the midway point, slightly reminiscent of the Chicano Rock sub-genre. It clocks in at nearly six minutes when its all over.
The Sky Is Falling is another very heavy track, which the listener should be used to by now. It's boosted by an excellent chorus, plus the song has a rather sludgy speed to it. It's another of my favorites on the disc, because it's pulled off so well. With the sixth track, called Six Shooter, Oliveri returns with his vicious yelling vocal style. You can interpret the slasher-film inspired lyrics, which are corny but purely made out of good-hearted fun. Heavy and menacing but stylistically strange, it's a short tune, at only one minute and nineteen seconds, so it doesn't deride from the enjoyment of the album at all.
Thankfully, Hangin' Tree contains some of the neatest guitar work so far, and Homme sings softly amidst the inspired riff-work in the background. It's got a classic rock touch. Followed closely is my next favorite, Go With The Flow. It opens immediately with solid drumming from Grohl, and more terrific riff work. The lyrics make more sense as well, and the choruses are the most melodic on the album so far. It's not a lengthy song, so it can be enjoyed by even the most rushed listener.
I was thrown a little off-track by the way Gonna Leave You differed from the rest of the album so far. It's almost as if it was produced in a different time for the band; it's a refreshing notification that the band didn't want to repeat themselves at all. As the second shortest song on the album, it is one of the most unique.
Do It Again opens in a fashion that may make some listeners think of the ever so famous Alice Cooper song we all know of. The stoner metal background riffs come back with force, while Grohl double-taps at the kit. It's not a remarkable track by any means, but it gets the job done nonetheless. Things slow down again in the next song, which is one of the most blues rock influenced tracks. It slows down just past the halfway point, then kicks back into high gear with another passionate solo by Homme.
Personally, I'm not a fan of the next song. It seems it's more useful as an entry to the main track (named slightly differently from the title of the album) than anything else. And on the subject of main tracks, it happens to be the longest on the album, clocking at over six and a half minutes. The band experiments with their instruments throughout, changing the beat and timing briefly at different intervals. Towards the end, the guys laugh like fun-loving drunks, and the song doesn't end for another twenty seconds or so. This short portion of the song is actually a cut from the song Feel Good Hit Of The Summer, replaced with laughing.
Comedically titled the "Hidden Track" on the back, the band decided to try their hand at a truly unique song. It's the most standout track on the album, taking on an almost folk-like sound, made a little haunting by the odd lyrics and the inclusion of an accordion and horns. There's some ethnic and bandstand influences to be heard as well towards the latter part of the song. It'll all leave an impression on anyone who listens to it for sure. I thought it funny that it was labeled as a hidden track, though.
All in all, this album was solid fun to be had at the time, a needed diversion from the rather generic heavy metal populating the airwaves during the summer of 2002. The band deserved the recognition they got with this album, as they produced a great effort here, without sacrificing the non-serious approach that they played by. The featuring of Dave Grohl on drums didn't pan out after the recording, but he made his mark well, and helped make the album what it is. Whether or not this would be considered their album to which all others by QOTSA measure in overall quality is rather irrelevant; on its own, it's simply a lot of fun to be had. Great to cruise to, whether you're blaring the opening song, headbanging to the hit first single No One Knows, or grooving to the desert highway-friendly Go With The Flow.