Having had the album now for 4 days and having it on repeat in the car, I decided that I was now in a position to be able to give it a good, honest, balanced review.
First of all and, overwhelmingly, the MUSIC is wonderful.
This is, to me, the first time on record that Roger has EVER truly been displayed in such fantastic form on the drums. The sound is full and exciting - providing the TRUE backbeat of a rock band. The snare gives off a resonating crack whilst the toms are full and deep. Previously, I've been almost scared of Roger's recorded sound because of theh arshness of the cymbals (maybe that's something to do with subsequent remasterings in the Queen catalogue - Liar being one glaring example that springs to mind), but here, they are warm and don't overly cover everything else.
Brian's guitar sound is on the whole excellent as you would expect. His blues licks in the deeper, bluesy material display a great touch and feel for what is, essentially, a style unexplored by him. I've been crying out for material like this from him for many years (since the Star Fleet album, in fact) and here, I've been rewarded in spades. The heavy material is awesome and Brian has, clearly, delighted in being able to play on trans that are NOT tailored to pander to the needs of music business executives who simply want a chart hit. Perhaps the failings he had with his solo material were as a direct result of being "cooped up" within Queen for so long and having little or no freedom to play the guitar. On The Cosmos Rocks, it's almost as if a kid has been given a toy and is suddenly able to display a talent that has been hidden away.
Paul Rodgers is on great form too. Singing with a dexterity and openness that reminds us of his later Free days. Clearly, the ravages of time prevent him from hitting the notes that he used to in the higher register and there are sometmes to many "ooo-ooo's" at the end of a line, but there can be no denying the power he can display when really up against it from his band mates.
Where I have really struggled with the album though is the lyrical content. Frankly, "Cosmos Rocks", "Still Burnin'", "C-Lebrity" and "Surf's Up...School's Out" (evocative of Taylor's "No More Fun")are embarassing in the extreme; the counterpoint to this though comes in the form of "Time To Shine", "Small", "Through The Night" and "Some Things That Glitter". The latter for there appear, to me, to come straight from Rodgers who invokes stylings from the "Highway" period of Free which, alithough lacking quality input from Paul Kossoff (for various reasons), displayed a great lyrical maturity. You wonder what was left on the cutting room floor when some of these lyrics made it to release.......
We also have the usual Brian May over-production issues to contend with; "Call Me" is a cracking little rocker in the style of "Sleeping On The Sidewalk", but is almost completely destroyed by an electronically processed guitar orchestra in the middle instrumental break. The sampling in of "We Will Rock You"'s beat and hand-claps makes one think that they'd simply run out of original ideas and opted for the easy way out and in to a future single release by sticking in something "all the fans" will recognise. Completely unnecessary in a track that has so much going for it.
But, on the whole, the LACK of production here makes for what we were all promised. A sparse, open and fresh sounding album from three guys messing around in a studio.
What we get here sounds absolutely NOTHING like Queen and for that, we have to be truly thankful. As a new piece of work from a new band, it's a walloping start and leaves plenty of room for improvement on the next helping from these guys. Overall, a 7/10 and a hope for better in the future.
Now, how to go about getting the band name changed to something completely original.......?