Sound — 8
After Josh Homme's stoner rock band Kyuss went defunct, he created two new bands around the same time: his most notable rock band, Queens Of The Stone Age, and a more tongue-in-cheek garage rock revival band with childhood friend Jesse Hughes, Eagles Of Death Metal. While QOTSA was Homme's prime responsibility, EODM would finally get things off the ground in 2004 with their debut album, "Peace, Love, Death Metal," which generated good buzz even for an album that was crafted in the interest of playful levity. Despite Homme still working equally as much with QOTSA at this time, as well as Hughes going through drug addiction and rehab, EODM would continue this momentum, releasing two more albums, 2006's "Death by Sexy" and 2008's "Heart On," that showed the modest retro rock project getting more substantial.
In the years following, momentum for all of Homme's projects would come to a halt after he had a near-death experience in the midst of surgery. But Homme's resilience has spurred resurgence across the board as of recently, and with QOTSA making their big return a couple years ago with their sixth album, "...Like Clockwork," EODM followed along in their long-awaited return with their fourth album, "Zipper Down."
Whether the seven years in between their last album didn't affect them or affected them for the better, "Zipper Down" shows EODM continuing their progression into a fuller-bloomed retro rock revival project. After the previous two albums brought forth better offerings of instrumental skill and layering, the big improvement of "Zipper Down" is the array of styles it offers, spanning from the fuzzy, swaggering blues rocker "Skin-Tight Boogie" and the dancefloor-filling "Silverlake (K.S.O.F.M.)" to the softer, southern-tinged "The Deuce," and even taking a detour into staunch noise rock in the heavily-layered "The Reverend."
This bigger array of classic rock offerings goes hand in hand with a number of nods to EODM's rock ancestors. There are simpler cases of this, like the straightforward hard rock cut of "Got the Power" feeling like classic KISS, or the opening of "Oh Girl" sounding like that of Cream's "White Room," but EODM keep this homage-paying from being a rip-off game by mixing things up. The poppy vocal melody of "I Love You All the Time" that's in similar spirit to Ringo Starr's "Oh My My" is paired with a more downcast blues feel, the spaced guitar hits in "Got a Woman" that call back to Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back in Town" are an appendage of its frenetic rockabilly style, and though one of the lead guitar riffs in "Complexity" is strikingly similar to the lead riff of Mountain's "Mississippi Queen," the dominant power pop sound the song touts keeps this from being a shameless knock-off. And with their fuzzy and forlorn garage rock adaptation of Duran Duran's iconic new wave hit "Save a Prayer," they further show that they can take a classic they're inspired by and reconstruct it into something fresh and interesting.
Lyrics — 8
At the heart of it, EODM's lyrical style has always been rooted in a satirical rendition of tropes found in the lyrics of classic rock. Hughes continues this in "Zipper Down," mocking the artificial coolness of L.A., specifically going after the hipster paradise of Silverlake in "Silverlake (K.S.O.F.M.)," as well as poking fun at the age-old stereotype that rock music promotes devil worship by blatantly encouraging devil worship in "Got the Power" ("The devil really wants to see you swim / Just take the deal and you can jump right in").
But the biggest aspect of this satire in EODM's lyrics regarded the brash machismo found in so much of classic rock's lyrics. Hughes ironically indulged in such a style in EODM's earlier albums, but by "Heart On," Hughes' lyrics started to pull away at the veneer, showing these depictions to be more desperate and insecure, making them darker in comparison. This arc continues even further in "Zipper Down," where Hughes' lyrics that used to womanize in an alpha-male swagger have now shriveled into pleas of dependency, heard in the unrequited "I Love You All the Time" ("I can tell you're gonna take your love away"), the post-breakup pining of "Oh Girl" ("You've got to save me, baby / Oh girl, when you coming back to me?"), and the narrative of a failing rebound attempt in "Skin-Tight Boogie." Going beyond mockery by mimicry, Hughes' darker lyrics of failed romance have the trope of the irresistible rock star tearing at the seams.
Overall Impression — 9
Much has changed since the last time EODM released an album. With garage/blues rock revival becoming the new trend in the world of rock music, EODM return to a genre that's expanded significantly with the number of bands trying their hand at classic rock pastiche. In the midst of this influx, however, "Zipper Down" shines bright for its variance within the realm of retro rock revival, making this return for EODM all the more triumphant. And aside from how it rises above the rest, "Zipper Down" still accomplishes the simple purpose of an EODM album: being a fun garage rock album from front to back.