Queen is to rock and roll what the comic-book Superman is to Nietzsche’s Superman: one big rock ’em-sock ’em, colorful, way-larger-than-life, out-of-control exaggeration of an exaggeration.
With its craving for overproduced musical bombast that crashes through your speakers like the Man of Steel bursting through a brick wall, Queen would never be called a subtle group. Still, as easy as it is to make fun of this sort of overbearing stuff. Innuendo is so over-the-top it’s enjoyable.
The album is a homecoming of sorts for Queen, a return to the mid-’70s glory days of such tunes as the infamous “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The band’s recent releases have pursued a more mainstream rock route with zero success, so it’s nice to hear this reversion to the old exaggerated ways.
Most of the songs are awash in over-dubbed vocals and booming Brian May guitar riffs. “Headlong” nearly drowns you with what comes across as an entire choir yelping “Hoop diddy diddy. Hoop diddy doo.” The title song and “Don’t Try So Hard” are harder rock, but the production is so lavish, it sounds like Heavy Metal Goes to the Metropolitan Opera. And, as a bonus, the album’s best tune is the lounge-lizardish “I’m Going Slightly Mad,” on which lead singer Freddie Mercury croons uneasily, like a cocktail jazz singer crazy after one too many requests for “Feelings.”
If this is cartoon rock and roll, at least it’s good and brazenly cartoonish. (Hollywood)