Eagles of Death Metal don’t sound like the Eagles, and they don’t sound like death metal. But with this band it’s not just the nonsensical name, it’s the whole package of ridiculousness. It’s the cheesy early-’80s metal-style album covers (the cover of last year’s Heart On would have been too embarrassing even for the Scorpions). It’s the butt-rocking rhythms of the type not heard since the glory days of Billy Squier. It’s the lyrics about dancing in tight pants. Here’s the kicker: Eagles of Death Metal may be joking, but they never lay it on too thick. There’s no (or very little) falsetto vocal squealing, sarcastic lyrics, cowbell banging, or Van Halen–style guitar noodling to say, “Look, we’re only joking.”
That’s because they are not joking, really. Eagles of Death Metal know there is no way to rock in 2009 without looking silly, and so rather than hide from that fact, they celebrate it. In that, they’re not unlike the Queens of the Stone Age — not surprising, as QOTSA leader Josh Homme is also in EDM. I like to think the two bands represent a new, postironic era, a time when we’ll be able to make rock ’n’ roll a serious force in music again by making it a little sillier.
Spinal Tap, Tenacious D, and the Conchords are funny because they have satiric lyrics and because they have movies or TV shows to reinforce the comedy. But Eagles of Death Metal are funny because rock ’n’ roll is funny. There’s something brilliant about that. As we know by now, “It’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.”
EAGLES OF DEATH METAL, Belly Up, Tuesday, February 3, 9 p.m. 858-481-8140. $15; $17 day of show.