Concerns over Queens of the Stone Age’s inevitable downfall in the wake of bassist Nick Oliveri’s departure from the band have proven premature. Like all great records, ‘Lullabies to Paralyze’ lays it down from the gate, but continually rewards repeated listening, offering delectable shards of sonic brain candy with each spin. Seems as though QOTSA’s revolving door of mad-scientist musos anticipated the fan’s potential longing for low-end beef and the dudes came out swinging, meeting the possibility of perceived deficits with hellacious slabs of wooly, lardaceous abrasion.
Whether it’s mastermind Josh Homme, guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen, or multitasker Alain Johannes picking up the bass ball, the doghouse is in capable hands. It’s a beautiful morning.
For those not lacking in bowel-stirring regularity, ‘Lullabies to Paralyze’ brings no shortage of inventive harmony, strange-but-genius counterpoint, or tasty guitar work to the table and the songwriting is fierce. Beginning with the stark ‘This Lullaby,’ the haunting vocals of sometime-singer/contributor Mark Lanegan set a tone for the album’s melding of stoner-rock roots with melodious atmospherics.
‘Everybody Knows That You Are Insane,’ opens with a Van Leeuwen lap-steel solo accompanying Homme’s bluesy vocal before soaring into the locomotive start-stop chorus.
‘I Never Came,’ has a laid back, soul groove where Josh Homme, handling the majority of vocal duties, demonstrates his range, commanding numerous approaches to what each song might require.
‘Broken Box,’ is a swanky number with a furry feel conjuring images of sashaying go-go girls working the beat before an ocean of dropped jaws.
‘In My Head,’ is a summer-breezy, convertible-driving-on-the-coast jam for the ages. This is the tune to put on after a long, hard day of sex on the beachen route to that distant diner for a romantic, late-evening piece of pie.
On ‘Medication,’ Van Leeuwen’s pummeling bass line comes on like a stomping Orwellian elephant decimating the town and laying waste to the Man in its own public act of apocalypse. Like much of ‘Lullabies,’ it’s a song for the road, fog hovering over the pavement, and a brain pressed on by coffee, cigarettes, and/or sugar-free Red Bull barreling down the dark highway, somewhere between Tucumcari and Kingman, in the wee hours, with nothing but wide open space between your destination and you.
In conclusion (ha ha ha), ‘Lullabies To Paralyze,’ is a menacing, heart-rending, phosphorescent work of staggering competence. It’s just what the doctor ordered. ‘Bess buy this record, fool!