Queens of the Stone Age, 'Era Vulgaris' (Interscope)

9
Era Vulgaris
Critical Mass
Label: Interscope

by Kyle Anderson

Era Vulgaris represents Queens of the Stone Age's most hallucinatory album since 2000's Rated R. And no narcotic assistance is required, since it legitimately recreates what music sounds like when you're high: The drums are distant and scratchy, the vocals are simultaneously sweet and dangerous, and every guitar riff sounds like "Sweet Home Alabama." Which is to say thatit sounds awesome.

Finally cutting back on the number of friends doing guest spots (only Julian Casablancas and QOTSA regular Mark Lanegan make cameos), Era Vulgaris is the first Queens album that places a significant focus on Homme's lyrics, which are equal parts stoned philosophy and backhanded bon mots -- he's a meathead, sure, but he's got a little Dorothy Parker in him. "You made me an offer that I can't refuse / 'Course, either way, I get screwed," he sings on "I'm Designer." "Counterproposal: I go home and jerk off."

Homme has spent his career turning the normal trappings of hard rock sideways, and here he amps up the swirling psychedelia, notably on the shaky "River in the Road" and the swinging, bipolar "3's & 7's." There are even some kinky grooves, highlighted by the horny Southern funk of "Make It Wit' Chu." Bob Dylan once declared, "Everybody must get stoned"; Queens of the Stone Age take that advice very seriously.

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