Albums Of The Week

The party never stops

Queens Of The Stone Age release their most danceable album, while Mogwai's Every Country's Sun is good for a post-revelry spin

In Villains, their seventh album, rock agitators Queens Of The Stone Age enlist an unlikely collaborator - Grammy and Brit-winning English producer Mark Ronson, better known for pop-funk hits and partnerships with decidedly non-rock acts such as Bruno Mars and the late Amy Winehouse.

The results are fantastic - charismatic frontman Josh Homme and gang turn up the funk without losing their trademark tough swagger.

Their most danceable batch of songs yet, it is also the first release that forgoes the long list of guest musicians who starred in their previous releases.

Homme's soulful tenor comes to the fore on tracks such as swing-influenced lead single The Way You Used To Do and the lounge rock slither of Hideaway.

He also adopts a Bowie-like baritone in the bridge for album opener Feet Don't Fail Me, a track which celebrates the restless nature of his music ("I was born in the desert, May 17 in '73/When the needle hit the groove/I commence to moving/I was chasing what's calling me").

The manic psychobilly of Head Like A Haunted House thrills at breakneck speed, while fuzzy guitar lines snake around a frisky groove on the free-range rock of The Evil Has Landed.

  • BOOGIE ROCK


  • VILLAINS

    Queens Of The Stone Age

    Matador

    4/5 stars

    POST-ROCK


    EVERY COUNTRY'S SUN

    Mogwai

    Rock Action/Temporary Residence Limited

    4/5 stars

Closing track Villains Of Circumstance is also the album's most poignant - a haunting ballad that clocks in at over six minutes. Homme sings a lullaby to his three young children: "Close your eyes and dream me home/Forever mine, I'll be forever yours."

If Villains is the album to put on to kick off the party, then Scottish post-rock stalwarts Mogwai's latest and ninth album, Every Country's Sun, is the one to play after the revelry ends.

Equal parts moody and uplifting, the guitar-driven instrumentals take one on a heady trip with its intense build-ups and exhilarating blowouts.

Battered At A Scramble has touches of 1990s alt-rock psychedelia, album opener Coolverine's pensive first half gives way to a wistful groove and the atmospheric title track has a colossal aura that is best savoured at high volume.

Like in their previous works, the tracks that stand out tend to be the ones which feature singing.

Party In The Dark is a gloriously uplifting piece with layered vocal harmonies and melodies that hark back to shoegaze legends My Bloody Valentine while 1000 Foot Face is an ethereal sci-fi lullaby that envelops the listener with its cosmic vibes.

Every Country's Sun is Mogwai's first album as a quartet after long-time guitarist John Cummings left in late 2015, but the remaining members, guitarist/singer Stuart Braithwaite, multi-instrumentalist and singer Barry Burns, bassist Dominic Aitchison and drummer Martin Bulloch, have lost none of their propensity for creating cinematic and vivid soundscapes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2017, with the headline 'The party never stops'. Print Edition | Subscribe