It manages to sound completely thrown together, made up on the spot, yet completely...
Eamonn Stack 2007-06-08
This album is one of BBC 6 Music's albums of the day, this week.
Era Vulgaris translates as ‘Common Age’; it’s Queens Of The Stone Age’s shorthand for the debased age in which we live and is their fifth studio album; a follow up to the criminally underrated Lullaby's To Paralyze (2005). Instantly it has less of the studio lustre of the previous two efforts. In fact it sounds more like it was recorded with instruments rescued by an old red Ford-V8 pick-up from a seedy mosquito-infested swamp.
The heavy, hooky, guitars and insistent drums are ever present but they sit deeper within a new found layer of electrical fuzz and wigged-out effects. Also they’ve forgone the driving ‘follow me!’ drum sound that Dave Grohl's one album stint lent their sound.
Although ‘The Grohl-effect’ helped launched them into the popular Rock consciousness, they’ve veered away from the more regimented hard metal direction (explored on 2002’s more radio-friendly Songs For The Deaf) in favour of a slightly more diverse and tastier sound. No offence DG.
Era Vulgaris sounds unexpectedly off-beat, even for QOTSA. The opening track ‘’Turning The Screw’’ (and ‘’Make it Wit Ch’’u, and ‘’I'm Designer’’) feature unexpectedly Pop-y vocals and harmonies over sparse drums, tambourine, cosmic keys, jangling and jagged guitars and a convincing lair of general background cacophony. Lead singer and writer Josh Homme mixes pagan austerity and intrigue. ‘’Into The Hollow’’ (and to a lesser extent ‘’Suture Up Your Future’’ are like parodies of flower power-era idealism, topped with tambourines and crashing cymbals and a chaser of slide guitar. But whatever they do is ever so slightly off-message, off-kilter; sometimes uncomfortably so on first acquaintance.
What goes in is only whatever sounds spot-on at that moment, that’s what makes this a great dirty rock ’n’ roll album. It manages to sound completely thrown together, made up on the spot, yet completely right. It’s a fabulously addictive and effortlessly executed conceit. Like someone throwing some eggs, sugar, jam and flour up in the air and it landing right side up as the perfect raspberry Twinky. From Hell.