Queens of the Stone Age - Times New Roman (2023), 5/10

Despite the sporadic flirting with psychedelia and noise rock, In Times New Roman… adheres to the The Queens of the Stone Age formula, and it has worn thin. Their discography is all over the place in terms of quality, but their newest record will more than likely fade into the mix in a similar fashion to Lullabies to Paralyze as an inoffensive but uninteresting collection of songs that do nothing more than their previous work and say nothing new. As a fan of their early work, I’ve been disappointed for years, and it’s ethos has officially been completely abandoned by another release after the wholly disappointing Villains. If you enjoyed …Like Clockwork’s change in direction you will likely find bits and pieces to enjoy from their newest project although it has a less surreal tone and a more glam rock influenced aura. The singles “Paper Machete”, “Carnavoyeur” and “Emotion Sickness” are a bit deceiving in that they foretell an entirely Homme focused affair, but the rest of the track list does a, albeit marginally, better job of balancing the band’s contributions and producing a group effort. “Paper Machete” is the strongest of the three, while “Carnavoyeur” hosts just a run of the mill modern QOTSA mellow sound, and “Emotion Sickness” rests on Homme’s guitar work and vocal eccentricities, inherently lacking in comparison to their earlier strength of highlighting each performer and their interplay. This is a common complaint I have with a lot of their recent work even including their stronger releases; leaning too hard on Homme as an individual rather than producing a holistic band effort, and while the majority of the remaining songs break free from this trap they have downfalls of their own. The band’s explores new ground for mere seconds before retreating back into the safety net that is their signature: guitar heavy, drum fill every other measure, simple droning bass line sound. One of the prime examples of this problem is “Time & Place” which at times sounds like it could easily fall into place on a record like Lullabies to Paralyze, but occasionally speculates against a heavy psych sound, but retreats further back into the tired motif we’ve been hearing for over two decades. Then “Made to Parade” is almost comically simple as if they needed to balance this out with a Villains-esque impression. This may invalidate everything I say but I am a fan of Era Vulgaris and its idiosyncratic sound, and “What the Peephole Say” almost sounds like a return to this temper, but ultimately again falls flat in comparison. If you are a fan of Queens of the Stone Age’s development in sound, and don’t mind the same old sensations, you will more than likely be at home and enjoy the experience. There is nothing offensively hideous about In Times New Roman… but very little to help it rise above the pack.