Review Summary: Queens Of The Stone Age's "conceptual" album.
A car drives through a lonely, yet seemingly endless road down the inner California Desert. At full speed, it heads towards the setting sun that is slowly sinking into the horizon. The scene grows darker, and darker, as the sky slowly descends into night. The inside of the car is filled with cigarette smoke, making it almost impossible for adequate vision. The radio speakers of the car blast the roaring sounds of Rock and Roll, providing a soundtrack for this road-trip to nowhere. There is only one passenger in the car, the driver, and that person is us; This is the concept behind Songs For The Deaf
, and the experience it is supposed to simulate.
A combination of Heavy Metal, slight touches of Psychedelia, and the Rock & Roll lifestyle- The inner essence behind Queens Of The Stone Age. Having previously released their eponymous debut, and Rated R
, Queens Of The Stone Age began to develop a mild following, a significant percentage being inherited by the demise of it's parental act, Kyuss. But it wasn't until releasing Songs For The Deaf that Queens Of The Stone Age became the illustrious act it is today. Why did Songs For The Deaf garner so much attention? No one knows. The band didn't change their sound, not at the slightest bit. The core members that are responsible for the creative aspect of the band didn't leave. And on top of all reasons, the time of it's release was at the height of Hip-Hop's dominance in the music scene. So what happened? Why did this album all of a sudden come to the attention of the eyes and ears of worldwide mainstream? The answer is one that can't truly be explained. The album had an undefinable quality that separated it from it's peers. That's how music artists get popular, and sometimes it has nothing to do with talent. They simply have a spark, something that can't be pointed out, but for some reason they catch our eye. it's at a subconscious level. The music just sounds good to the ear, and we like it. That's it.
But that isn't to say that Queens Of The Stone Age didn't deserve the attention, they did, and right from their debut release. But their chance at fame was very bleak. Grunge was long dead and Hip-Hop's popularity was flourishing so emphatically that it was devouring Rock and Roll. In fact, the two genres even coalesced. Rock bands began combining elements of Hip-Hop into their sound. Acts like Slipknot, Korn, and Linkin Park were leading the Rock and Roll mainstream, so there was no room for a band that wore their ZZ Top and Roky Erickson influences on their sleeves. But just like that, practically overnight, "No One Knows"
began playing at every Rock station on the radio, MTV began playing the music video of "Go With The Flow"
, and Queens Of The Stone Age were now in the mainstream.
The content behind Songs For The Deaf is the same bravado Rock and Roll we've heard before, along with lyrics ranging from the usual innuendos referring to sex and drugs, and the random ideas that flow through the mind of Josh Homme. I suppose only this time, they hit all the right notes. Songs For The Deaf contains everything we love about Rock and Roll; Roaring guitars, thunderous drums, and the rebellious attitude that says "F-ck You." Right from the beginning, when all of the radio-introductions finish and "You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire"
begins to play, with that powerful delivery of dirty Heavy Metal riffs that simply demand our attention as the vocals yell out, "Give Me Some More!"
It's a powerful introduction. And right away we descend into the song that arguably made Queens Of The Stone Age the band it is today, "No One Knows"
. A song referring to pills the narrator swallowed, and their effect on the mind. All delivered in the Desert Rock fashion that we've come to expect from Queens Of The Stone Age. But this is no "one-hit wonder" album, far from it. "No One Knows"
may be the track that garnered all of the attention, but this album contains a multitude of tracks that make it the celebrated release it's remembered as.
There's many different realms that Queens Of The Stone Age take us to within their music, though all of them familiar. Tracks like "Songs For The Deaf"
and "Songs For The Dead"
, both consonantly named, explore that darker side that Queens Of The Stone Age occasionally exposes. Driven by a nocturnal sound of grimy Desert Rock, reminiscent of their days in Kyuss. "Hangin' Tree"
features the deep, and raspy voice of Mark Lanegan, whose vocal delivery effectively takes us away into that Desert scenery he odes the lyrics to. Like a multitude of songs on the album, it is a re-imagined incarnation instrumentally from it's Desert Sessions version. Queens Of The Stone Age also explore some more mature content in the album. The album finale, "Mosquito Song"
, contains an acoustic-driven sound that also incorporates a multitude of instruments that make for a lovely melody. "The Sky Is Fallin"
also shows another diverging approach, not necessarily in the music, but lyrically. And of course, by divergent I mean it isn't about sex or drugs. And speaking of sex and drugs, the album also features the usual testosterone-fueled rock anthems in songs like "Go With The Flow"
and "First It Giveth"
. But of course like every album, Songs For The Deaf does contain it's weak tracks. "Six Shooter"
, in it's short life span, doesn't accomplish anything but creating hyperactive noise. It's really just a filler, but it is an interesting listen at best.
Songs For The Deaf doesn't really explore any new territory within the formula of Queens Of The Stone Age. And even the new "conceptual" approach that takes the listener on a drive through the California Desert while tuning into radio stations, is indolently conceived. Nevertheless, the album contains very little flaws musically and Queens Of The Stone Age once again deliver their promise of making solid good old fashioned Rock and Roll music for fans to enjoy.