Lullabies doesn't rock as hard as Songs
April 4, 2005 —
Here is a question that many bands face every year: Is an album a failure if it doesn't emulate the total mastery that its predecessor achieved, yet still manages to be a completely thrilling hour-long ride?
Queens of the Stone Age had better hope not, because while their new album Lullabies to Paralyze doesn't match the aural splendor of Songs for the Deaf, their 2002 compilation that earned two Grammy nominations, it is still an excellent CD. In more accessible terms, this is their version of Nirvana's In Utero, compared to Nevermind.
Dismissed as a merely a stoner rock band upon their arrival, QOTSA rose from a cult underground following to a Platinum status band upon the strength of their singles "No One Knows" and "Go With the Flow" on Songs. Their first single off of Lullabies, "Little Sister," displays many of the classic characteristics of the band while pushing the band toward a more melodic sound.
This fifteen-song collection varies throughout in different melodic temperaments, from the folk-rockish "This Lullaby," to straight acid rock in much of the band's mid-section, complemented with the band's signature sound of repetitive keyboards and dueling guitars. A big disappointment for the CD comes in its lyrical content, which often consists of tawdry sexual innuendos that don't show the band's flair for writing.
Frontman Josh Homme is the only regular returning member of the band to appear on all of the song's tracks, with wildman bassist Nick Oliveri being kicked out of the band for excessive partying. Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, the former Nirvana drummer who played the chops on Songs for the Deaf, is nowhere to be found on this album, replaced by Joey Castillo, a capable drummer who doesn't always synch up well with his bandmates.
The strongest track on the album is "The Blood is Love," a seven-minute track that explores love, death and drug use. If you like psychedelic guitars that seem to penetrate into your brain even when you close your eyes, you will like this song.
Another song of special interest to music fans would have to be "Burn the Witch," which features the guitar of ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons.
The song has a unique, Texas-fried sound to it, which sounds like the 1970s and 2000s came together in a blender. It is a nice touch of originality on the CD to bring in one of rock's greatest guitarists.
It is unlikely that this CD will be able to match the commercial success of its predecessor, but no serious musicians worry about the commercial viability of their music (minus the watered-down pop-rock that infiltrates the radio dial - I'm looking at you, Linkin Park and Papa Roach). While not as strong as it could have been, Lullabies to Paralyze would still make a worthy addition to any rock fan's library.