Queens of The Stone Age
Lullabies to Paralyze
someone once remarked that Josh Homme slyly played off every project he undertook as a bit of a joke. by doing so he deflected the critical examinations of his works' queer idiosyncrasies (Desert Sessions, Eagles of Death Metal) and wholly accepted any projects that became popular (QoTSA). more than that, however, Homme's success has never been singularly through his own hands. each QoTSA album owed itself to a particular iteration in lineup and artistic mood. whereas musicians such as Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees, Mark Lanegan Band), Kelli Scott (Failure), and Dave Grohl (uhhh ... Dave Grohl) have all animated a specific personality of Queens, Lullabies to Paralyze is strictly a Homme project. though others may have helped, their fingerprints are faded, a first for any Queens album.
though some may seek to play it down, Nick Oliveri's public dismissal was tremendously insalubrious for the group. besides being with Homme since the days of Kyuss, Oliveri offered a bestial, aggressive counterpoint to Homme's stoner rock falsetto. it was Oliveri's short bursts on the mic ('Quick and To The Pointless' from 2000's Rated R; 'You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar But I feel like a Millionaire' and 'Six Shooter' from 2002's Songs for The Deaf) that helped keep the music from droning. all of this in addition to providing some bitchin' rock as Mondo Generator proves that he wasn't just "the bassist." as it stands, Lullabies to Paralyze is the closest thing to standardized stoner rock, something that ends up not being very inspired.
the Queens sound is present again, Homme and co. setting their guitars to a slow, sludgy rumble as they have on previous albums. what's different is that Lullabies doesn't do much more than that, as seen with their first single, 'Little Sister.' chords are struck, notes are sung, and a beat is apparent, but little else indicates any qualitative direction. the song maintains the same velocity (or lack thereof) for almost three minutes, and the same chugging motif is applied to 'Everybody Knows That You're Insane' and the better part of 'I Never Came.' though i didn't want to admit it initially, i think the band may simply be bored at this point and content with churning out unmemorable stoner rock numbers.
the album doesn't fail by all accounts, however. 'Tangled Up in Plaid' proceeds with a heavy riff and more pronounced bass drum, leading into a chorus whose thickness rivals that found on Songs for The Deaf. 'Someone's In The Wolf' could easily be considered Lullabies' 'Better Living Through Chemistry,' its 7-minute running time consisting of equally kinetic and propulsive parts. 'The Blood Is Love' follows in the same way, its low guitars and bass almost pulling the sound inwards as opposed to projecting it at all. 'Long, Slow Goodbye' is interesting because it's rare to see the band close with such, well, straightforwardness. this isn't a bad album by any means, but its inadequacies run throughout the piece, the most glaring of which is a band settling into a steady state when they possess such a motley, kinetic history. perhaps the overall problem is that Homme actually took this version of the band seriously.
Release date: March 22, 2005
Rating: 6.3 / 10
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