Zipper Down may be Eagles Of Death Metal’s first album in seven years, but it’s with good reason. Drummer Josh Homme has been preoccupied as of late fronting some band called Queens Of The Stone Age (ever heard of them?) while frontman Jesse Hughes has been holding down the fort, touring the band with a revolving door cast of guest musicians, though taking a break in 2011 to work on his solo project Boots Electric. The product of the two convening once again is Zipper Down, their first album since 2008’s Heart On, but listening to it, you can’t help feeling as though they’d have been better off leaving a new album a bit longer.
The fact that the album reaches its peak in the first four songs is hardly a good sign, but these are undoubtedly the strongest on the record. Opener Complexity (one of a handful of re-recorded Boots Electric songs) is an uncomplicated little pop song in its infectious hooks and squawking keys, while Sliverlake (KSOFM) is a mildly humorous dig at hipster culture. Following that, Got A Woman is a decent slice of boogie rock and I Love You All The Time is a surprisingly tender mid-paced number. After that, things derail fairly quickly. There are definitely moments the shine elsewhere (the Rolling Stones-style swing of The Deuce manages to stand out somewhat) but really, much of Zipper Down is lukewarm at best. The haphazard clunk of Skin Tight Boogie is just uncomfortable to listen to, while the sub-Black Keys slog of Oh Girl feels uninspired most of the time, and a cover of Duran Duran’s Save A Prayer is just awful.
Only some of the blame can be shouldered to the actual songs for Zipper Down‘s mediocrity though. Hughes and Homme clearly love rock ‘n’ roll more than the Internet loves John Cena, but for what is undoubtedly meant to be a pastiche (descriptions of the album as being like “an eargasm trapped inside a crazerbeam” can hardly suggest anything else) it still feels like they’re trying to hard. A good comparison is Steel Panther. Steel Panther are most definitely a parody and they’re in on the joke – on Zipper Down it sort of feels that Eagles Of Death Metal aren’t aware of that fact. It’s not exactly a seriousness, but the likes of The Reverend feel subdued to the point where it feels like a parody band writing serious songs, and a whole album like that doesn’t sit well at all.
That’s not even taking into account the actual style. When the band were at their peak in the mid-2000s, their garage rock sound was all the rage, and undoubtedly would’ve sounded a lot better then than it does now. They’ve been so unwavering with their sound all through their career that they’ve now reached a point where a stagnant sound has become even more so, and that hardly going to do them any favours. You’d think, considering Josh Homme has such a prominent role in the band he’d have had some influence in their sound. More or less everything he’s been involved in, from Queens Of The Stone Age all the way to the Arctic Monkeys, has been blessed with the type of louche coolness he’s become known for, so to see it completely nonexistent on Zipper Down is incredibly disappointing.
It just feels like – and this may sound harsh – Zipper Down is largely a waste of time. Of the numerous comebacks that have happened in 2015, a band that was hardly a force to be reckoned with at their pinnacle coming back with a lacklustre album seven years after their last is hardly going to be the most enticing concept, regardless of who’s in said band. And ultimately, that’s what’ll be Eagles Of Death Metal’s downfall on Zipper Down – the fact that no one’s really that bothered.
For fans of: The Hives, The Vines, The Datsuns
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Zipper Down’ by Eagles Of Death Metal is released on 2nd October on Universal Music.