2000 - Feedback: Rated R Review
by unknown
Along with slippery addictive fellow countrypeople At The Drive-In, Queens Of The Stone Age could be accused of bringing a new intelligence to all that is weighty and ferrous. Formed from the ashes of stoner rock ensemble Kyuss, their eponymous debut album garnered them a number of high profile fans, including Madonna, but "Rated R" has seen their star go supernova. Finally released on vinyl as what the cover sticker refers to as an X rated version (presumably a reference to the preponderance of borderline pornography that lurks within the gatefold sleeve) and blessed with an extra track ("Ode To Clarissa", which, curiously is none of the extra tracks on the simultaneously reissued double CD version), those of us who covet the black stuff (as in the format, rather than the music) are finally granted an opportunity to see what all the fuss is about.

They are Queens, and they are chunky, to paraphrase The Artist. Certainly "Rated R" seems to have the same built, stacked sound that I remember from American AOR bands such as Boston (in my youth, Father William), albeit stripped of all chromium plated frippery and doused liberally in attitude. They also remind of the latest model Red Hot Chilli Peppers at times, chiefly in their ear for the kind of tune that still makes sense when cranked up to stadium-strangling levels. And then there's the maverick experimentation: "I Think I Lost My Headache" culminates in a brass-blaring finale that's almost pure systems music (predating Radiohead's "The National Anthem" by a season or two, incidentally), whilst a sneaky reprise of big single "Feel Good Hit Of The Summer" pops up behind "In The Fade". There are even former members of Dinosaur Jr and Screaming Trees on hand to lend a little college rock cred - as if Queens Of The Stone Age need the assistance!

There's lots that is great about "Rated R": it does interesting, fresh things with rock music, and it undoubtedly deserves the welter of praise with which it has been showered. But for me it's merely a very fine album: it doesn't itch its way into your consciousness like the last At The Drive-In platter does. I like it, but I can live without it. Nevertheless, respect due.

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