April, 2001 - Synthesis: Rated R review
by Max Sidman
From the first track on the Queens Of The Stone Age’s second release, R (RESTRICTED to Everyone, Everywhere, All the Time), it is apparent that frontman and de facto group leader Josh Homme (formerly of Kyuss) writes tongue-in-cheek rock that toes the line between jocular and serious. The lyrics for "Feel Good Hit of the Summer," chanted over a driving, riff-mongering chord structure, repeat only the following phrase: "Nicotine, valium, vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol…c-c-c-c-c-cocaine."

From that point, the record takes an interesting turn. Though Homme and his cohorts are known for heavy, ball-breaking rock that could be likened to Homme’s previous work in Kyuss, this isn’t straight-ahead metal music. Sure, there are the staggeringly powerful musical lines, blistering guitar solos and thundering rhythms, but beneath the hard skin of this rock ‘n’ roll beast beats the heart of pop music. The melodic structures are surprisingly intricate, as is the construction of the songs themselves. "Leg of Lamb" is a soft, catchy tune, not a sugar coated pop jam — none of these songs is — but an exercise in songwriting that accentuates aurally attractive vocal harmonies and toned-down instruments amid the tried and true tenets of rock. "Auto Pilot" utilizes the whining guitar of big rock ballads with a surprisingly friendly chorus. But this stuff isn’t all that sweet — soft and somber is more like it.

This album isn’t all warm and fuzzy, either. "Monsters in the Parasol," "Quick and to the Pointless" and particularly "Tension Head" bring the noise, reassuring fans of the Queens’ dedication to the hard edged stuff that they’re famous for. You could say, though, that Homme and his crew have grown up a bit.

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