I’m sat at my desk in work (my real work, not this) when I hear Them Crooked Vultures’ debut album for the first time, and it doesn’t take long for me to realise that it’s the worst place to listen to it. Not because it deserves a better stereo (though it does) or because it deserved more attention (it’ll get you wherever you listen to it), but because its pure visceral intent made me want to kick my computer screen across the office and smash my keyboard into my desk in time with John Paul Jones’ bass lines.
With Josh Homme on vocals, Dave Grohl on drums and the legend John Paul Jones of Led Zepellin fame on bass and keyboards, this is a super group of epic proportions and the self titled debut album lives up to all expectations.
It opens slowly with the nondescript early licks on No One Loves Me and Neither Do I, but it isn’t long before Josh Homme’s vocals ‘huh’ their impact. Then the unmistakable heavy bass of John Paul Jones combines with Homme’s guitar after about three minutes and the song takes a nosedive into the depths of excellence.
Things move on with the molten Mind Eraser, No Chaser, which ends bizarrly, but perfectly, with the kind of random trumpet tune that you’d expect more at the end of a Beatles song, than on Them Crooked Vultures.
New Fang kicks in with a trademark Grohl, cymbal heavy drum solo, which gives way to Queens of the Stoneage guitar pace and a screeching riff ending.
Not a single song that follows will help you lose that initial sense of breaking free from the confines of what keeps you down. Big hitters, include Elephants that has a stunning intro and subversive vocals, Reptiles that comes straight from the same cutting block as Kashmir and Interlude with Ludes with it’s surreal background melody; a complete diversion from the established run of play.
There’s no easy ending either, it blasts straight out all the way to the 13th track. My favourite song on the album is Gunman, which is propelled by a sunken bass-line from John Paul Jones. Then out of this beast a piano plays beautifully, starting off Spinning in Daffodils, but it takes just fifteen seconds for it to come back with what sounds like barbed wire being hack sawed. It envelopes the piano’s harmony and chokes it out as it grows ever stronger. Then we’re back to the underworld of Them Crooked Vultures and despite a small part of you that misses the beauty, it’s the angry animal inside that croons Bowie-like “sharpen your teeth my darlings, sharpen your minds”.
Them Crooked Vultures album review: 4.5/5