Lullabies To Paralyze

Studio Album by released in 2005
Lullabies To Paralyze's tracklist:
Lullaby
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Medication
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Everybody Knows That You're Insane
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Tangled Up In Plaid
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Burn The Witch
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In My Head
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Little Sister
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I Never Came
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Someone's In The Wolf
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The Blood Is Love
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Skin On Skin
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Broken Box
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You Got A Killer Scene There, Man
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Long Slow Goodbye
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Hidden Finale
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Lullabies To Paralyze review

Before heading into the studio in early 2004 to record the fourth Queens of the Stone Age album, Lullabies to Paralyze, the band's guitarist/vocalist/chief songwriter, Josh Homme, kicked out bassist Nick Oliveri for undisclosed reasons. Since Homme and Oliveri were longtime collaborators, dating back to the 1990 formation of their previous band, Kyuss, this could have been a cause for concern, but Queens of the Stone Age is not an ordinary band, so ordinary rules do not apply. The 2005 version of Queens of the Stone Age finds the band more relaxed and loose than it has ever been on record. Here, guests include ZZ-Top Billy Gibbons and Garbage's Shirley Manson.

Lullabies to Paralyze explodes with tight, meaty riffs, enormous pop melodies and vocals that seem to come from outer space. Songs like lead single Little Sister and Medication seethe with a punk intensity; Burn the Witch sounds like vintage, bluesy Aerosmith; Long Slow Goodbye is more melodic and showcases Homme's unique falsetto. The band cuts loose on longer tracks like The Blood Is Love and Someones in the Wolf. Mark Lanegan is back on the opening This Lullaby. As an opener, it leaves something to be desired. Fortunately, Homme kicks things into high gear right away with Medication, a stomper if there ever was one. Similar to the semi-hit Go with the Flow from Songs for the Deaf, Medication is an unrelenting track that features Homme's strengths: chunky and simple bar chords, melodic backing vocals, and pummeling '70s rock bridges. The third track slows it down with the inevitable node to Oliveri, Everybody Everybody Knows That Youre Insane. It's a perfect song that balances the fast and slow with the hard and soft as only Homme can produce. By the sixth track In My Head, the pop elements kick in with full force.

While Lullabies is hardly a concept album, its songs play off each other as if it were a song cycle. The key to Queens of the Stone Age darkness is that it's delivered seductively – this isn't an exercise in shallow nihilism, there's pleasure in succumbing to its eerie, sexy fantasies – and that seductiveness is all musical. Specific lyrics don't matter as much as how Homme's voice blends into the band as all the instruments bleed together as one, creating an elastic, hypnotic force that finds endless, fascinating variations on a seemingly simple sound.

There is no other rock band in 2005 that is as pleasurable to hear play as Queens of the Stone Age – others may rock harder or take more risks, but no one has the command and authority of Queens at their peak, which they certainly are here. They are so good, so natural on Lullabies to Paralyze, that it's easy to forget that they just lost Oliveri, but that just makes Homme's triumph here all the more remarkable. He's not only proven that he is the driving force of Queens of the Stone Age, but he's made an addictive album that begs listeners to get lost in its ever-shifting moods and slyly sinister sensuality. Lullabies to Paralyze, is the perfect balance between the band's earlier ‘stoner-esque' jams, their Rated R-era headphone music, and the band's pop side that was a little hard to swallow on the successful Songs for the Deaf. Lullabies is one of the strongest albums of 2005 thus far, from beginning to end.