Queens Of The Stone Age: Lullabies To Paralyze

Sure to find its way onto many a critic’s Top 10 list this year, Lullabies To Paralyze, the latest offering from Josh Homme’s main gig, Queens Of The Stone Age, is nearly impossible to discuss without mentioning the line-up changes from their 2002 breakthrough Songs For The Deaf.

Featuring a fresh rhythm section due to the departure of Oliveri and Grohl, the new album has a similar feel but a different approach. The production is deliberately low-fi but meticulously crafted and the vocal harmonies are in focus more than ever. Don’t let the line-up change dissuade you, either; the rhythms still kick all shades of ass and move from straight up rock to swaggering blues to catchy wood block simplicity (there’s no cowbell on “Little Sister”) with ease and tasteful sophistication.

On a whole, Lullabies To Paralyze seems to possess a more singular vision. While Songs For The Deaf had its share of bells and whistles, due to Grohl’s distinctive drumming among other things, the new record is more tasteful in its characteristic stops and sometimes side-swiping part changes. The songs contain both playful and mournful elements and the arrangements, especially the vocal harmonies, are memorable and inspired. Guitar melodies are seamlessly arranged and even the most far-out sections of the disc seem natural.

Above all, it’s an enjoyable and damn catchy listen. I can stop at any point in the album and the chorus will be in my head until I turn it back on. By far one of the best rock and roll outings of the year.