Eagles of Death Metal - Death by Sexy Review
By the time you get the name, Eagles of Death Metal, the whole point may have passed you by. Perhaps best known for the involvement of Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal take elements from Homme's stoner rock iconoclasm and wed them to a loose, fuzzy, garage-rock framework. Good times are in good supply on the group's second release, Death by Sexy. While the temptation creeps in to scrap this project as a sort of self-indulgent gimmick born of the notorious Desert Sessions (which feature the first credited appearance of the Eagles of Death Metal), Homme and vocalist/guitarist Jesse Hughes lay down a convincing set of Nuggetsesque guitar jangle and fun.
Bringing the sounds of the MC5 together with the more pop-oriented garage of ? & the Mysterians, Eagles of Death Metal bounce through thirteen tracks of Rock and Roll that's as much Elvis as it is Kyuss. "Cherry Cola" and "Solid Gold" both burrow their way into your subconscious with choruses as catchy as that nasty bird flu. Hughes sneaks some killer solos into the mix as well, as on "Don't Speak (I Came to Make A Bang!)". That song creates a tangible center for the record as it harnesses the groove of the Detroit bands, while lacking the pure power. If Homme's musical past owes much to the Seventies, his exploits with Eagles of Death Metal are rooted deeply in the Sixties. There are some almost, "Louie, Louie"-like moments on this record.
The music works perfectly in a garage setting. Simple drum beats, hand claps, lots of fuzz and lyrics that wander fairly far afield from the cerebral, all come together in a mess of three chord joy. Simplicity doesn't exactly rule the day, though, as lots of other elements creep in, like female backing vocals, acoustic guitar and lots of guest stars including Jack Black and Mark Lanegan-how's that for a mixed bag? A lot of ingredients make for an interesting soup that scampers all over the palate. "Chase the Devil" is Cramps all over while "Solid Gold" could have been a Bee Gees song if crack had been invented. This new release finds the band stretching out just a little bit more. If their previous effort was geared very specifically to situate the band in its territory, this new album finds the group reaching a little to see where it can go from there.
While musically Death by Sexy surpasses 2004's Peace, Love, Death Metal, the sound is still based more on a feel than on any particular musical inspiration. Jokes abound, even though the band may be angling for more serious consideration with a follow-up release this close on the heels of their debut. Subtle things, like the fact that several songs have parenthetical additions to their titles, or simply songs having titles like "Eagles Goth" and "Shasta Beast" provide more than enough levity to the album but the high-range vocals, while quaint and retro, gnaw at the nerves a bit after a dozen songs. The group still reeks a little of side-project despite the improvements on the new model.
Probably, anyone who comes to Eagles of Death Metal thinking they're getting another dose of Queens of the Stone Age was already burned two years ago with the Eagles' debut album. Also, anyone expecting to find actual Death Metal here is probably still running for the hills with the liner notes to their Emperor records stuffed in their ears. What you get with a new Eagles of Death Metal record is a fun release that dusts off an, until recently, neglected chunk of Rock's past and spit shines it with a gob of modern sensibility and attitude. With a name like that, coming from guys like these, what did you really expect?
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