For a wind-withered, high-desert rock band, writing on the road can be tough business. But judging by the majority of tracks on Eagles of Death Metal's new album, Heart On, it seems snaking through America's corn-choked Heartland (where, legend has it, the band received their "heart on") invoked nothing but pickin', grinnin', and enough testosterone to soundtrack a frat house hazing.
EODM's tic buckles with equal parts smarmy analyses, dance-heavy pop sludge, and roadhouse blues, leaving most listeners confused as to where the "death metal" quotient lies (see the band's opening slot for Guns N' Roses in 2006 for reference). But where the band gets the last laugh about their moniker, we're rewarded with their oft-times tongue-in-cheek rendering of a twisted rock 'n' roll reality; one where songs about tight pants ("[I Used to Couldn't Dance] Tight Pants") and prissy prancin' ("Prissy Prancin'") are par for the course. And even when it seems that the collective cock-walk of both vocalist/guitarist Jesse Hughes and drummer Josh Homme (of Queens of the Stone Age fame) might strut right out of your iPod speakers, the wisps of their epic lampoon tempers the flames.
So why see them? Why buy their albums? Why waste time perusing this paltry article? They appear as trashy, derelict connoisseurs of a campy bar-band troupe, derived, it seems, only to inspire willful acts of disobedience, ultra-decadent episodes of pomposity, and to steal your girlfriend from right under your nose. Well, it'd be easier to knock them if they weren't so goddamn good at making you love and hate them at the same time. If it weren't for Homme's punishing skin pummeling, or for Hughes' tickly, gravel-scraped vocals, or even for the band's sheer balance of pop mastery and metal blasphemy, it'd be easy to write the band off as whimsical side-project or cash-wagon farce. But it's not. In fact, the more I listen to them the more I like them. And that's just not fair. God speed to you patrons of this week's Halloween show. Stay strong.