Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Eagles Of Death Metal -- Heart On

Eagles Of Death Metal -- Heart On (Downtown/Rekords Rekords)

It’s another trip to Boogie Town in the Eagles Of Death Metal’s way back machine. Mustachioed Jesse Hughes and chrome domed Josh Homme have this retro groove fest down to a science. As such, it’s hard to deem any EODM record to be essential. But this is yet another album with its fair share of pleasures.

The song that leapt out immediately to me is the shimmy inducing “(I Used to Couldn’t Dance) Tight Pants”. This song is built on funky shuffle drumming and a typically stupid guitar part. Hughes and Homme know a good groove when they find one and they ride it out with, just adding a falsetto “I don’t want to do what I’m supposed to/I just want someone to be close to” refrain. The best part is that you can dance to it.

Let me use the word “groove” for the third consecutive time in this review, with a purpose. I think what raises the Eagles from just being boogie revivalists (though the Eagles are decidedly boogie revivalists) are the rhythms. Rather than the plodding 4/4 beats that typified the ‘70s music these guys are celebrating, the drum and bass parts are more modern. Hip-hop and funk and dance music and post-punk lurk in the background of the lunkheaded power chords. That’s what makes this so insinuating.

That and other juxtapositions these two come up with. “Solo Flights” mixes a goofy acoustic blues guitar part that sounds oh so Steve Miller band with intense rocking in the chorus, the electric guitar slashing away. It’s a mix of silliness and monolithic hard rock more akin to Homme’s work with Queens Of The Stone Age. I’m sure they realized that as long as the two parts sounded great individually, cramming them together wouldn’t be a problem.

The Eagles may go beyond Queens territory on the scarifying closer, “I’m Your Torpedo” which leaves the boogie behind for a krautrock drone. The song vibes on trainwreck drums and a relentless bass, while Hughes and Homme add goofy guitar effects, which only serve to amplify the doom coming from all other sides. It’s apocalypse with reverbed slide guitar effects.

This is only a change of pace, as the album is dominated by the typical good timey stuff. “Wannabe in L.A.” is trebly and twinkly, with light percussion and hyperdrive blues guitars, moving along at a very quick pace. Hughes breaks out the falsetto on “Prissy Prancin’”, where the sexy sleaze sounds a bit off, in a good way. There’s even a pensive mid-tempo track, “Now I’m a Fool”. This is a macho slow number in the tradition of songs like Alice Cooper’s “Desperado”.

Three albums in, the Eagles Of Death Metal may be silly at times, but they aren’t a novelty act. Instead, they are a chance for Homme and Hughes to pay tribute to old sounds, while twisting them into new shapes.

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