Uncovered: Queens of the Stone Age
Here the main man from Nouvelle Vague does the decent thing – an act of kindness for humanity – and makes a wee set of silk purses from the sows’ ears Queens of the Stone Age call songs.
If you know his trick, his Bossa Nova-meets-Bacharach/so French-so-chic remakes of post-punk era classics then it’s very much the same sort of thing here. He parades a few queens in the lead singer role to turned this stoned-age rock music into palatable pop, keeping the tension (Running Joke) but finding melodies where previously there were just Dave Grohl drum fills (No One Knows) or a heap of slide-guitar mugging and ginger-headed yelping.
Burn The Witch, recast in such a way as to not only pay tribute to the original but evoke Suzanne Vega; it’s a strange and beautiful mix. Hangin’ Tree is another highlight – one of the closest things Queens has ever had when it comes to anything resembling a decent song.
From the shouldn’t-work-but-works-so-well/better-than-the-original camp this is an album that Queens fans should at least be interested in – though, presumably, they’ve found their own way into the original tunes. But the beauty of this album is that it works for non-fans, it works for Nouvelle fans and yet it’s better than what they band became; it’s right back to when they first unleashed what all too quickly became (just) a gimmick.
Libaux is clearly a fan of the band – he had Josh Homme’s blessing for this project and all that jazz. And he’s nailed it. He’s made a great wee pop album, it’s cute and twee, yes. But it has substance. And to think it was all built from songs by one of the most laughably overrated bands of recent years. No mean feat.