Sound — 8
Era Vulgaris is Homme's fifth Queens album, and like the others, it's intricately crafted, meticulously polished and ruthlessly efficient in it's pursuit of depraved rock thrills, with robotic rhythm machines like "Turning on the Screw" and "I'm Designer." Last time, Homme got slept on with the excellent but underrated Lullabies to Paralyze, people were thrown off initially by it's down-in-the-dumps mood, which may be why the music took longer to kick in for some fans. But Era Vulgaris is a lot cockier than Lullabies, clobbering you instantly with guitars louder and uglier than a psychedelic biker party at Joshua Tree's Skull Rock. "Misfit Love" is the ultimate Queens anthem, all low-register guitar crunch, with a percussion track that sounds like tennis balls the size of Betelgeuse crashing into a Moog factory. Homme snarls, "I wanna see my past in flames," and he gets his wish.
Lyrics — 9
We get the many moods of Josh Homme, most of which concern the miracle of physical love and the procurement thereof. He's always said he wanted the Queens to be a band for the ladies, not the menfolk, and from the vocals to the bass lines this is his most crotch-tensive music. "Make It Wit Chu" is an old Desert Sessions song, revamped into a ridiculous lover-boy plaint, with Homme doing his sleaziest falsetto over a lounge-lizard cousin of Neil Young's "Southern Man." "Into the Hollow" is a surprisingly tender purple-haze ballad, with Homme's vibrato amid a gently quivering wah-wah and the usual assload of bass. "Run Pig Run" is staccato jackhammer blues metal, "3's and 7's" sounds like prime Nirvana and "Sick, Sick, Sick" is manic punk riffing, offering "a lick on the lips and a grip on your hips."
Overall Impression — 10
If there's one thing you should have learned about Homme by now, he'll heist a badass riff from anywhere. In "I'm Designer," he sings about his "generation" and means it, his fey falsetto a parody of hippie cosmic aspirations. But even though the joke is a great one, you hear that falsetto, and you realize it's here for one main reason, just like every other sonic flourish on Era Vulgaris: Josh Homme loves how it sounds. This one of Queens best albums standout tracks are "Sick Sick Sick" "I'm Designer" and "3's and 7's". If it was lost/stolen I would certainly buy another one.