August 27, 2002 - Barnes and Noble: Songs for the Deaf Review
by David Sprague
The problem with a lot of so-called "stoner rock" is that you actually need to alter your mind beforehand to get the most out of it. This high desert (no pun intended) combo, on the other hand, provide the mind-alteration itself, couching mysterious transporters somewhere deep in every gnarled tune. As on their last album, the critically acclaimed R, Queens of the Stone Age seldom merely stand in one place, bashing out stegosaurus-stunning riffs (although they're perfectly capable of doing just that when the need arises). Instead, Josh Homme and company have taken a wide array of spooky atmospherics and post-apocalyptic blues songs (some of the better ones, like "Hangin' Tree," sung by former Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan) and assembled them into a pseudo-concept album designed to prove that, yes, modern popular culture is indeed as bad as you think. The songs are linked by announcements from a purposefully obnoxious disc jockey type (representing "Clone Radio"), but none of them -- from the creepy-crawly electronic burst "The Real Song for the Deaf" to the strangely catchy ghoul-pop nugget "No One Knows" -- would make it anywhere near airwaves controlled by such a bozo. Homme and Nick Oliveri seem more concerned with melody this time out, layering songs like "The Sky Is Falling" with harmonies that recall Agents of Fortune-era Blue Oyster Cult. But no matter how smooth the surface gets, the roots (and mocking humor) beneath, say, "You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire" make for a dangerously thrilling undertow.

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