Sweat-soaked, slide-shimmering, sex-obsessed R 'n R at its awesomest.
This second album from Eagles of Death Metal opens with a maniacal laugh, an evil-sounding but very attractive cackle that kicks off the pure adrenalized jolt of “I Want You So Hard (Boy’s Bad News)”. The song that follows is a sped-up rampage through “Summertime Blues” territory, even, like that song, it is spiked with deep-voiced spoken word intervals. It’s the kind of cut that distills everything you love about sleazy, skeezy rock and roll. That it sounds a lot like “I Only Want You” from Eagles of Death Metal’s first album is either a plus or minus, depending on how you felt about Peace Love Death Metal, but the surprise factor is undeniably gone. With their follow-up, Eagles of Death Metal are back exactly as they were, playing another stripped-down soundtrack for your most unjustifiable one-night stands and dubious flirtations.
Eagles of Death Metal first came to light in one of Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions, as a partnership between the Queens of the Stone Age frontman (here playing drums) and his long-time friend Jess “The Devil” Hughes. The band’s first record Peace Love Death Metal was a hedonistic highlight of 2004, full of body-moving, lo-fi anthems and goofy band banter, and radically, intriguingly different from slick, heavy, desert rocking Queens of the Stone Age. Now with the second album, there’s again a startling lightness, almost a floating quality, to these grooves that takes a garage-blues formula and makes it dance. “Cherry Cola”, for instance, flutters along on falsetto vocals and block-simple drum beats. There’s a fractional hesitation to “Solid Gold”, where minimal slide guitar and maracas break for a funk microsecond before Hughes comes in with the word, “sweat”. It’s a hip-jutting, pelvis wiggling moment, about-to-clap hands in the air implied, yet light and high and breezy.
This is music for before sex, lyrics all oozing politically incorrect what-I’m-gonna-do-to-you-baby machismo. Primal grunts and involuntary “ohs” carry the message as much as the formal lyrics. These boys are, as they say, “here to make a bang”. Still it’s too playful to feel really dangerous. Even the most misogynist cuts—the AC/DC nodding “Poor Doggie” for instance—are leavened with humor, and the churning, panting “I Gotta Feeling (Just Nineteen)” is almost romantic in the way it idealizes a casual hook-up.
There’s a much stronger blues feel to Death By Sexy than Peace Love Death Metal, with a couple of the tracks splicing eerie slide guitar into their manic groove. The best of these is probably “Chase the Devil” a double-time romp embellished with rockabilly moans and bone-chilling slides. Weirder, slacker and more lyrically fanciful, “Queen Bee and Baby Duck” is also blues-influenced, and the closer “Bag ‘O Miracles” is nearly unembellished in its finger-picking purity.
Most of the cuts, though, are pure rock and roll, lo-fi in execution and electrically, erotically charged. If you come to rock music for pure release, to celebrate the body, to forget your day job, Death By Sexy is just what you’re looking for. Put it on, and if you can’t be good…at least be careful.
// Notes from the Road
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