Although Queens of the Stone Age has found mainstream success recently, lead singer and guitarist Josh Homme is back with Desert Sessions 9 & 10, the latest installment of the ongoing side project he began in 1997 in which he collaborates with friends and like-minded musicians. On Desert Sessions 9 & 10, Homme works with Polly Jean Harvey, Twiggy Ramirez (of Marilyn Manson fame), Dean Ween (Ween), Joey Castillo (Danzig and QOTSA), as well as many others. Like the previous eight volumes, this collaboration proves to be a successful weaving of musical styles that leaves the listener tickled and delighted.
Session 9, entitled “I See You Hearin’ Me,” shows us that when “rock” musicians get together they do just that — play rock music. The country-esque track “I Wanna Make it Wit Chu” combines an inviting delivery of vocals by Homme with backing by PJ Harvey. The swinging feel to the drumming and guitar playing is calming and alluring. It feels as if you are sitting on the desert with the band trying to woo the local cowboy’s daughter.
This session also plays with the imagination. On “There will Never be a Better Time,” Harvey and Chris Goss, on guitar, drive the listener to a beautiful word of insanity. Harvey delivers vocals that are simply stupendous; they work so beautifully with Goss’ manic skills that the listener only wants more. Harvey sings that she “wants to change, change everything,” but that statement does not apply to this song.
On Session 10, called “I Heart Disco,” Harvey and Homme switch lead and background vocal positions on “A Girl Like Me,” and the two are just as captivating as before. The vocals, lyrics, and overall feel of the song is somewhat distorted in a glamorously beautiful sort of way. It’s like a walk down an alley with a seemingly eccentric stranger late at night — you don’t know what to expect, but you want to go anyway.
One of the hidden tracks, “Bring it Back Gentle,” summarizes the album on a whole. Homme sings with a sense of longing and sorrow. With the whole set backing him, the band jams out a song that invokes a dark muse. Crooning in a grungy way and with a distressing backing by the band, “Bring it Back Gentle” is the album. It’s tempting. It’s hard. It’s love and hate. It’s stunning. That, my dears, is the only way to put it.