The first time I heard Eagles Of Death Metal, I was backstage at a festival in Bologna, trying to interview Queens Of The Stone Age even though Josh Homme, dancing like a menacing and mildly suggestive uncle, was more interested in playing me his new side project.
At this point, the Eagles Of Death Metal were a rickety, if hugely entertaining, boogie band. The possibility of them having a career, a kind of serious career at that, seemed remote. Homme was evidently, justifiably proud of the record, but he seemed proudest of the fact that every track had a false ending.
It’s strange, then, to take delivery of the third Eagles album. The general irreverence and lasciviousness remain, as you might expect, as does the band’s default rhythm being a sort of persistent thrust. But frontman Jesse Hughes is now known as “Boots Electric” rather than “The Devil”, and the overall sound is far from rickety.
In fact, there are plenty of moments on this glossy, reliably enjoyable album when you could easily mistake “Heart On” for something new by the Queens themselves. It’s not just the personnel involved – as usual, drawn from Homme’s Queens and Desert Sessions loyalists, notably Dave Catching, Troy Van Leeuwen and Alain Johannes – but the meaty sound.
“Cheap Thrills” and “High Voltage”, say, have that stuttery, cranked feel that Homme usually calls “robot rock” when he’s on Queens duty, while the fantastic opening track, “Anything ’Cept The Truth” could be seen as a sequel, after a fashion, to “The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret”: a bold, immediate pop iteration of something seedy and menacing, perhaps.
Elsewhere, Hughes’ terminal lustiness has a more familiar goonish quality, as is probably obvious from the usual excruciating song titles like “(I Used To Couldn’t Dance) Tight Pants”, “I’m Your Torpedo” and, of course, that wretched pun “Heart On”. “Tight Pants”, as it happens and as I’ve just been reminded by the man to my left, is a dead ringer for Jon Spencer & The Blues Explosion. Which isn’t a comparison I’ve had to wheel out often in the past few years – not since I first heard “Hello Operator” and got a somewhat simplistic handle on The White Stripes, perhaps.
There’s also a sense here that the margins between various Homme projects keep blurring. Songs have always migrated from the Desert Sessions into the Queens, of course, most recently “”Make It Wit Chu”. That song’s late ‘70s Stones vibe can just about be detected in places here, too, especially in the lovely, oddly elegaic “Now I’m A Fool”, in which Hughes sounds more or less plausibly hurt.
Mostly, though, he sounds as fun and dumb and knowing as ever, if not quite as dumb as he used to try and make himself out to be. The weirdest thing, really, is that the Eagles Of Death Metal seem to have, against the odds, become a proper band, without losing the trashy spirit which first defined them. I wonder how Josh Homme is going to manifest that spirit on his next project, the Arctic Monkeys?