Tricky and claustrophobic, but with plenty of swoons and thrills.
Nick Reynolds 2002-11-20
Heavy? Yes, but in a clever, camp kind of way. Rock? Definitely.With Dave Grohl behind the drum kit and a bucket full of Sabbath style riffing, this certainly rocks.
2000's Rated R was one of the best post-Nirvana American rock albums. It was an elusive, dark, slippery kind of record, a series of pastiches of rock styles past that seemed more real and cut deeper than the posturing of most grunge.
Some of it sounded like Metallica, some of it like David Bowie circa The Man Who Sold the World. Lots of people voted it the best album of the year. But then as usual the ground shifted, along came The Strokes and "irony" and "bleak" became strictly last year.
The Queens have responded with typical perversity and produced a set which is even bleaker than the last one. The shadow of death hangs firmly over its first 30 minutes. At times the wailing witches' chorus and unrelenting tales of hanging trees and murder gets a bit indigestible.
But there's still plenty of head shaking rock action. Nick Oliveri screams his head off in the groovy Millionaire. Grohl's drum intro on A Song for the Dead is better than the rest of the song. No One Knows comes across like ZZ Top in a really, really bad mood.
Slowly, the mood doesn't exactly lighten but at least becomes less brutal, as the second half sets up a series of doomy love songs. Do It Again matches a Glitter Band stomp with the best melody of the album while Another Love Song comes as a complete surprise, a perfect piece of gloomy late-60s pop.
It all depends how you like your rock. If you like it with big airy spaces, lots of affirmation and a nice happy ending you should buy the latest Coldplay album. But if you like it tricky, claustrophobic but with plenty of swoons and thrills you should get to grips with this big, dense monster of a record.