We open up with “Feet Don’t Fail Me” and after a lengthy intro, consisting of very little other than tinny, echoed guitar tone, soft synths and hushed percussion…it’s got certain qualities to it that would honestly see it befitting on a show like "Stranger Things", it’s quite dark and trippy…before the track kicks in properly. It’s pleasant enough, the rhythm and overall feel of the song is very generic and methodical at its core, it’s really quite basic, only the subtle synths breaking the monotony, though it’s fitting with Homme’s distinctive drawl, but there’s a solo mind you (at least I think it’s meant to be a solo), incredibly brief but oh god does it sound off, however intentional the tone, it’s honestly excruciating to listen to, really spoiling the song. “The Way You Used To Do” follows up and is redemption enough…it’s a far more positive, up-beat track, although still simplistic, harking back to the early days of rock ‘n’ roll with its basic percussion and repetitive style, it flows nicely, accompanied with the hand-claps it’s got a feeling of movement, the old dance-all days of swing and it’s got a great climatic flurry with the guitars turned up a notch, this is much better.
Further highlight’s include the short, almost punk-a-billy inspired “Head Like A Haunted House”…it’s a sharp dose of energy and the whole thing, again, harks back to an almost 1950’s style of American rock ‘n’ roll, aided by the inclusion of subtle electronica, it’s like an amalgamation of two era’s with a slight hint of B-Movie feature thrown in for the full retro package, while standout track “Fortress”, despite being more restrained, combines string sections and a soothing, morose tone with further synth elements for simple but effective hooks…there’s more melody here, it really is loose, it’s a band relaxed and just enjoying themselves, it is laid back, it is care free and that carries over through the listener, allowing you to just kick back and enjoy…sadly however, the rest of the album fails to hit the mark. “Domesticated Animals” for example is incredibly slow and practically lifeless…its really quite a boring listen, likewise too on “The Evil Has Landed”…there are moments when tracks pick up the pace but it’s sadly too little too late for the most part, before the album closes on “Villains Of Circumstance”; rounding off proceedings with a disappointingly dull listen…again, there is a flurry of life at the end but it doesn’t make up for it too well. It’s not a terrible album, for what it’s worth…it’s within its style and QOTSA have approached this record with a sound and theme in mind, and there are moments to take away from this, but you can’t help but think back to the likes of “Go With The Flow” and “Little Sister” and just wish they’d turn it up again. It may be called villains but, the only crime they’ve really committed here is for the most part subjecting the listener to boredom.