Queens of the Stone Age – Era Vulgaris
“…Era Vulgaris manages to keep QOTSA’s trademark sound intact, while embellishing it and taking it where it hasn’t been before…”
Era Vulgaris is an album that continues QOTSA’s trademark thundering hard rock. Produced by Josh Homme and Chris Goss (Also known as the Fiffif Teeners), along with Troy Van Leeuwen’s distorted keyboards, the album leans closer to an industrial sound than previous Queens records. However, their pop sensibilities remain intact, and songs like Sick, Sick, Sick, 3’s & 7’s, and Suture up Your Future get stuck in your head and roll around for hours afterwards.
Despite their ever-present pop edge, the album’s tone is taught and laced with moments of paranoia and tension. Songs like Run, Pig, Run and River in the Road are dark and are propelled by the discordant guitars and Homme’s trademark falsetto (Which somehow balances out the dark atmosphere and adds to it at the same time).
Era Vulgaris also offers a slice of Homme’s apparent resentment of pop culture, in the form of Make it Wit Chu and I’m Designer. The former is almost a parody, taking a stab at all the ridiculous love songs you know and love. I’m Designer attacks celebrity culture, with Homme taking on a hilarious accent as he does so.
However, the second half of the album tends to drag a bit, and aren’t nearly as memorable as the standout tracks. Despite Make it Wit Chu’s joke-y nature, it sounds very out of place, and manages to break the album’s continuity. Misfit Love and Battery Acid are pretty standard tracks, and the latter suffers from some ridiculous lyrics. (“Robots, robots/Brainwashed babies/Blood from a leech/Spoken rabies”)
Overall, Era Vulgaris manages to keep QOTSA’s trademark sound intact, while embellishing it and taking it where it hasn’t been before (but not without it’s rough patches). It is still very much worth listening to, though.