Josh Homme wants it to be clear: Eagles of Death Metal is not a side project. Though he rakes in most of his dough and critical acclaim with Queens of the Stone Age, drumming for Eagles of Death Metal brings him just as much satisfaction as his big band does. Probably because he gets to play with his childhood friend, Jesse "The Devil" Hughes, a mustachioed man of action who loves to "get freaky in the shadows of the night." Eagles of Death Metal could possibly be viewed as a novelty act, given their propensity for goofy lyrics and shameless musical theft and debts, owed mostly to the Rolling Stones and 70's boogie rockers. Call them whatever you want, but they are only bringing those flames even higher, as Heart On is a hot slab of rock lightning.
As Jesse Hughes has commented in recent interviews, the production for Heart On is leaps and bounds over their previous two albums. Where those had more of a garbage can clashing tone, Hughes' guitar is now beefy and forceful, a trait that should have been there all along. Homme and Hughes were having so much fun they apparently just figured out how their band is supposed to sound. Good thing they did since it would have been a waste for these superb songs to not hit as hard as possible. "Anything 'Cept the Truth" comes off at first as an opening number that should have been in the middle of the album, but as it flexes out at over four minutes, becomes a groove-inflected rocker with a great riff holding the pieces together. "Wannabe in LA," the first single, begins with a really dumb....cowbell? Maybe? Can't quite identify it but it has Hughes intoning a "WHOOMP" over it, and it's just really ridiculous. But that gives way to a tight, quick-moving song about the legions of star-struck out-of-towners who come there to achieve their dreams, and end up having to sell their souls. And that dumb cowbell beat comes back in the middle section, and finally makes sense.
No discussion of Eagles of Death Metal can go on without mentioning the lyrics. They are the most outrageous aspect of the band, and it's likely that if not for their tongue-jammed-in-cheek bravado, they wouldn't be half as fun. So it's once again up to Jesse Hughes to wax poetic on all things "rock not rawk," and he does it like a king. On "High Voltage," he not only cops an AC/DC title, he obsesses over a hard-rockin lady and says, "I wanna be the showpiece in her Nasty Boy collection." It's to Hughes credit that he can convince us he's a smooth love machine and then boast and brag about masturbating on his "Solo Flights," apologizing because "No one's gonna hold my hand, it's got a full-time occupation." He also gets away with being super femmy at the same time as super hetero. Singing about a dance of yours called "Prissy Prancin" and still maintaining your machismo is a task few people other than Jesse the Devil are cut out for.
Laugh at them all you want, write them off, but Eagles of Death Metal are legit. They've been asked to tour with The Strokes, Joan Jett, and had that infamously short run with Guns N' Roses. They are true blue rock and rollers, no matter how many silly poses they strike. Heart On will please anyone who wants to get down and boogie, as those are the people it was made for. Are you ready for some Prissy Prancin?
8.2 / 10
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