Album Review: Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures

November 17, 2009

Concept: QOTSA guitarist/vocalist, Nirvana drummer, and Led Zeppelin bassist get together for whatever. It’s amazing it wasn’t hyped more.

Sound: There’s a wealth of addictive riffs on this album. The problem is that half of them serve as bookends or are hidden halfway into otherwise dull tracks like No One Loves Me And Neither Do I and Elephants. There are maybe five tracks that follow through with their nugget of pure rock fury. Dave Grohl is a perceptive and creative drummer, the same one that helped make a retro masterpiece of Queens Of The Stone Age’s Songs For The Deaf. Homme’s penchant for beating a riff into the listener’s skull is refined by violent rhythmic cuts and switches, which makes the difference on many songs. Although some of his old tricks are heavily recycled, Grohl and John Paul Jones put a new atmospheric spin on it so that it’s more of an acidic regurgitation. Reptiles and Interlude With Ludes present a relatively new sound for each of the collaborators, justifying the project. The theatrics they make on the side count for a lot of the album’s appeal. Jones uses a grotesque effect on slap bass to imitate the croaking of raptors, and Homme bends his strings to breaking point in open sections of verse to twist melody askew, punctuating the lyricism appropriately.

Lyrics: There are some albums that suffer from too much talk. Homme leaves little breathing room for the music, and sometimes his words just aren’t catchy enough to flow so freely. Having said that, while the occasional cliche and smarmy self-contradicting phrase takes the swagger out of a song, dark humor and machismo keeps the mood intact. “I’m going to smother you with my love/ forever and ever. Also, forever./…/ Is my face still bleeding?/ Then what is your problem?/…/ Sometimes you break a finger/ on the other hand/ I think you got me confused for a better man/…/ I think you got me confused.”

Quick And Derivative: Suffering from some derivative approaches, there are spacey, rocket-fueled highs and miserable, puttering lows. There’s tons of material on the album, plenty worth listening to, and the group clearly has the potential to make something spectacular in the future. (♦♦♦½)

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