Picking highlights is like standing outside the witch's house in Hansel and Gretel and...
Chris Long 2002
A lot has happened to Queens Of The Stone Age centrepoint Josh Homme since the band hurtled into the big time with the brutally brilliant Songs For The Deaf, and it's mostly been about ending. The Distillers' Brody Dalle has stopped being his squeeze, Nick Oliveri has stopped being his bassist and, briefly, his lungs stopped working properly.
Thankfully, none of this has stood in the way of QOTSA producing another belter of an album. Indeed, the quality of Lullabies To Paralyze is so high, you have to start to wonder if the band can actually put a musical foot wrong. Centring its artwork and its ideas on the fear of the unknown, of the fairytale forests and the wolves that will eat you as you sleep, it's dark in a truly Gothic way, but still buoyant enough to get you bouncing around the room.
It's long-time collaborator Mark Lanegan, not Homme, who sets the scene, turning all Nick Cave for the haunting of "This Lullaby".Soon enough, though, the album pitches into the familiar anthemic alt-rock that has already carved the band their place in history.
Picking highlights is like standing outside the witch's house in Hansel and Gretel and choosing which sweet to eat first; there's simply so much choice, yet you know that something lurks within. "In My Head" burns a catchy chorus into your skull, "Little Sister" plunges headlong into racing abandon, "Someone's In The Wolf" is an operatic epic of sublime proportions, and "Long Slow Goodbye" drifts endlessly on a desert road to sorrow.
As with QOTSA, you can't come into the presence of Lullabies To Paralyze expecting an easy ride, but be sure of one thing: if you dare to step into the darkness of the album's heart, you'll find plenty to reward you.