Share
Resequence: Queens of the Stone Age: Lullabies to Paralyze

Resequence: Queens of the Stone Age: Lullabies to Paralyze

This was QOTSA stumbling at a crossroads.

If we’ve learned anything from this still nascent feature, flawed albums come from an avoidance of theme (Jens Lekman’s I Know What Love Isn’t) or bloated excess (Rihanna’s Anti). Queens of the Stone Age’s Lullabies to Paralyze suffers from both. Yes, it might have some of Queens’ most enduring anthems and easily Homme’s best vocal work until …Like Clockwork, but this was QOTSA stumbling at a crossroads. Nick Oliveri had just been kicked out of the band, depriving Josh Homme’s sultry Bond Villain its ax-wielding psychopath counterpoint. With Oliveri gone, Queens fully transformed into “Homme and friends.” And the egomania was on display, Homme researching Grimm’s Fairy Tales for lyrical ideas and making multiple, six-plus-minute, lumbering tracks that would have been banished to the cutting floor with outside editing. There’s also the fact that there is no one definitive version of Lullabies. Two vinyl pressings came out; spools of tape were lost; a few song ideas were stretched between this record and follow up Era Vulgaris and international releases hid a bevy of lost tracks that had been lurking in the studio. But if you cut the fat, commit to the bit and reincorporate some lost classics, Lullabies to Paralyze: Bronzed Edition is gold medal rock front to back.

Tracklist:

1. “I’m Here for Your Daughter”
2. “Medication”
3. “Everybody Knows That You’re Insane”
4. “Tangled Up in Plaid”
5. “The Bronze”
6. “Burn the Witch”
7. “Little Sister”
8. “I Never Came”
9. “Bring it Back Gentle”
10. “In My Head”
11. “Infinity”
12. “’You Got a Killer Scene There, Man…’”
13. “Someone’s in the Wolf”

Additions:

“I’m Here for Your Daughter”
“The Bronze”
“Bring it Back Gentle”
“Infinity”

Omissions:

“This Lullaby”
“The Blood is Love”
“Skin on Skin”
“Broken Box”
“Long Slow Goodbye”

1. “I’m Here for Your Daughter”

A like for like replacement with “This Lullaby,” from The Desert Sessions, “I’m Here for Your Daughter” downplays some campiness and adds in a sprinkle of serial killer smile. “I would have to kill you/ That would not be nice,” is exactly the type of Grimm’s fucked-up-ed-ness that this album should start with.

2. “Medication”

But we keep the slab of punk following the dusty threat. “Medication” is Homme’s best Misfits impression and starts the spooky good vibes with a chugging riff and doo-wop vocals glazing the rushing thrill.

3. “Everybody Knows That You’re Insane”

What starts as a gunslinger ballad erupts into a bruising rocker, carrying over the best bits of “I’m Here for Your Daughter” and “Medication.” The rising riff in the chorus matches Homme’s nursery rhyme soar, mocking an unseen foe (possibly Oliveri) and carrying “Everybody Knows That You’re Insane” into sheer nastiness.

4. “Tangled Up in Plaid”

Lullabies, at its best, either delivered Queens’ catchiest hooks or surprising vulnerability. “Tangled Up in Plaid” was the best example of the latter, the swamp-rock song rolling like early Black Keys, but with Homme’s magnificent vocals effortlessly slipping between chest and falsetto and wounded questioning to cries of betrayal. One of the saddest Halloween songs ever.

5. “The Bronze”

A bonus track from Queens’ self-titled debut, “The Bronze” never found a proper home. It could have been placed on any of the opening trilogy, but with Homme’s abstract menacing and the guitars screeching like ambulance sirens, Lullabies’ mix of hook and terror is perfect. It also leads us from the uneasiest section of the album into chart topping pleasure.

6. “Burn the Witch”

ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons is all over Lullabies with backing vocals and even playing guitar on a cover of his song “Precious and Grace.” “Precious and Grace” doesn’t make it here, but his bluesy growl does rest firmly in “Burn the Witch,” Homme’s tribute to the southern-fried rock bands he idolized as a kid. Outside of the video for “No One Knows,” this is also Queens at their campiest, with the specter of the Salem Witch trials an afterthought to the muscular swing.

7. “Little Sister”

A wicked little Elvis tribute and the biggest hit from Lullabies, “Little Sister” is simply one of Queens’ finest, and, come on, we’re not taking the best cowbell rocker of the 21st century off.

8. “In My Head”

There’s an argument that “In My Head” would fit better amongst the prickly pop of Era Vulgaris, but the triple threat of AOR-ish pleasure from “Burn the Witch,” “Little Sister” and “In My Head,” is pure dopamine.

9. “Bring it Back Gentle”

Another Desert Sessions gem and Mark Lanegan’s contractually obligated song. “Bring it Back Gentle” is some Pixies on steroids shit, going from an eerie, utterly stark verse to a thrashing chorus reminiscent of the monstrous “The Sky is Fallin’” from Songs for the Deaf.

10. “I Never Came”

After the uneasy close of “Bring it Back Gentle,” we fall into the single most helpless QOTSA song, at least until the one two punch of “I Appear Missing” and “Like Clockwork” nearly 10 years later. “I Never Came,” at first seems like a cheap innuendo, but these sleaze bags have souls. And Homme’s piercing vocal performance makes sure this is the emotional heel turn that Lullabies hinted at, the touching climax of the album.

11. “Infinity”

Another lost song, originally for the soundtrack of Heavy Metal. It never got a release outside of Japanese bonus tracks, which is frankly insane. Put this on Rated R and it instantly becomes the most colossal rocker there. For never being an actual single, there’s an argument that only “No One Knows” and “Mexicola” could match it for sheer, Zeppelin-esque rock thrills. And we need at least one more lighters-up moment before we close.

12. “’You Got a Killer Scene There, Man…’”

One of these days Homme is just going to release a straight up Nick Cave album. All Blue-Eyed soul and poisoned Sinatra noir. This is Lullabies at its slimiest, but somehow also its most seductive. “I just curse the sun so I can howl at the moon,” Homme snarls.

13. “Someone’s in the Wolf”

You’d be forgiven for listening to the original version and just stopping after “Someone’s in the Wolf.” Though only the ninth track there, “Someone’s in the Wolf” was the scariest damn song they’d ever released, and one of the most massive, with that churning, gut punch guitar work and Homme’s bloodcurdling coo of “so glad you could stay forever.” And considering he was just spitting game about being a werewolf, we’ll end in terrifying transformation.

Omissions:

“This Lullaby”

“This Lullaby” was too similar to the superior “Bombed,” which Lanegan released only the year before. It feels uncommitted as compared to the freak show of “I’m Here for Your Daughter.”

“The Blood is Love”

This is what Homme would eventually do to The Arctic Monkeys when he produced them it’s all simmering tension and slicked back hair. But “The Blood is Love” doesn’t justify its six-and-a-half-minute runtime. Cut this to three, and you have some wonderful, rattling tightness. In its current form, it can’t help but eventually run limp.

“Skin on Skin”

A prototype for the scratchy hedonism of “Smooth Sailing,” “Skin on Skin” feels like a pointless goof. There’s a moment where the guitar feedback sounds like a pants zipper being pulled down. Even for their sleaze, it was a low point.

“Broken Box”

An inane blues pisstake, “Broken Box” is somewhere between the festering crawl of “Burn the Witch” and the flirtation of “You Got a Killer Scene” and no man’s land doesn’t suit any part of Lullabies.

“Long Slow Goodbye”

Another tricky one, as, thanks to lost tapes and proximity to Era Vulgaris, it’s possible that “Long Slow Goodbye” was meant to be pushed back to the next album. And it would have fit better there, as this is a slow-ass goodbye, pushing Lullabies to nearly an hour run time, draining the energy that the front half owned.

Listen to Nathan’s version of Lullabies to Paralyze below:

Leave a Comment