In Times New Roman...
Queens of the Stone Age
There was and always will be a devilishness to Queens of the Stone Age’s grubby desert rock and their long-awaited 8th LP ‘In Times New Roman…’ maintains the group’s proclivity for the dark and macabre, with a liberal dose of catchiness. 6 years on from the Mark Ronson produced ‘Villains’, the Joshua Homme-fronted gang are back with a muscular stomp through the shadier enclaves of rock ‘n’ roll, that according to the outfit explores the blemishes and imperfections of life “with ‘In Times New Roman…’ we see that sometimes one needs to look beneath the scars and scabs to see beauty, and sometimes the scabs and scars are the beauty.”
Stylish, primal and sinister ‘In Times New Roman…’ is QOTSA embracing a raw brutality that’s not only represented by their sonic signature but the record’s artwork. A bequiffed rockabilly character is depicted with a leather jacket and slicked back hair that’s been possessed by a rabid wolf-like creature, as demonic hands with razor sharp claws encircle the album’s titular focal point. It’s as wicked and as sinful as you’d expect from a unit of outlaws peddling sleazy tunes that walk a fine line between good and evil.
If ‘Villans’ was the group’s embracing a rock ‘n’ roll playfulness, ‘In Times New Roman…’ is the fivesome ratcheting up the attitude for something altogether denser and meaner but not without a decent helping of hip-wiggling sassiness. Thematically, Homme’s lyrics appear to be left open to interpretation but with that, they reveal themselves to be, at times, personal barbs aimed at toxic behaviours and self-inflicted wounds. Opener ‘Obscenery’, with its thick, meaty sound has the totem pole-like frontman direct his ire at someone with self-destructive tendencies “self-help but you won’t help yourself/you must be pleased with the misery you’ve designed”. Notably, the record’s first track comes in hard with its full-bodied riffs and thunderous drums but it’s not a straight forward A to B rock song, as it meanders into a cinematic mid-section before circling back to a cacophonous din. With Homme as the record’s preacher, you’re guided through the world of ‘In Times New Roman…’ by his astute observations and cutting commentary; ‘Negative Space’s slow, guttural stomp captures the frontman in a reflective mood as he ruminates “we’ll never get back to where we were/starring into oblivion/oooo/it hurts” with a bellowed delivery.
‘What The Peephole Say’ comes out swinging with a shimmy and shake that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on ‘Villains’ and amongst the toe-tapping frivolity a message of impending doom pokes out between the cracks like weeds in a perfectly manicured flowerbed “I don’t care what the people know/the world’s gonna end in a month or so”. Then there’s the menacing rumble of ‘Made to Parade’ that depicts a subservient culture and seemingly a disparaging side eye aimed at life in the corporate machine “climb that ladder/you gotta hold your tongue” and “a bloated corporation/they work you like a slave” sound all too relatable for the cubicle, desk jockeys among us. ‘Time and Place’ is another track that showcases the band’s virtuosity, as the song evolves from stunted staccato to woozy psychedelia with a touch of the wild west as Homme observes a ne’er-do-well who’s rotten to the core “the space in your heart baby/it generates your hate” while describing this figure as someone who’d better watch their back “you’ve got a lot of nerve coming round this place/if you’re a pretty boy/you’ve got to save face”. ‘In Times New Roman…’ comes to a head via the sprawling nine-minute odyssey of ‘Straight Jacket Fitting’ which on the surface sounds eerie and demonic. It’s here where Homme exposes his fleshy vulnerabilities during the record’s final throes “hold me close/I’m confused and I wanna go out”. Sonically again, this is where the band switch multiple gears from beefed up rock to something the resembles medieval.
Times New Roman might be one of the most vanilla of font choices but make no mistake, the QOTSA LP of the same name is anything but ordinary. In fact, it’s a spicy sucker waiting tantalise your musical taste buds.
Pre-order In Times New Roman… by Queens Of The stone Age HERE
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