Veteran multitaskers that they are, Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme packed a lot into the seven years between Heart On and Zipper Down. Homme returned to Queens of the Stone Age and started another band, Them Crooked Vultures, with Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones; Hughes became an ordained minister, appeared in a movie with Grace Jones and Iggy Pop, and worked on his solo project, Boots Electric.
Perhaps it's not surprising, then, that Zipper Down feels more like the work of a side project than any of the duo's albums since Peace Love Death Metal. As always, Homme and Hughes serve up, in the best sense of the word, a caricature of rock & roll: "Complexity"'s mix of dumb and clever -- as well as the hints of T. Rex and the Rolling Stones in its revved-up riffs -- is quintessential EODM, while "The Deuce" proves once again that the duo needs little more than a scrappy groove and heroic doses of cowbell to make a great song. However, at times Zipper Down sounds more tossed-off than effortless.
Though "Got the Power," "Skin-Tight Boogie," and "Oh Girl" prove Hughes and Homme's dedication to boogie, they're more than a little repetitive. It's especially noticeable when compared to Heart On, where Eagles of Death Metal proved they could be vulnerable as well as tough and funny; the only glimpse of that side of the band Zipper Down offers is the excellent "I Love You All the Time," where they pull off a nimble balance of lighthearted and brokenhearted. From its title and artwork on down, the album spotlights the duo's jokey side, and again, the results are mixed: the cover of Duran Duran's "Save a Prayer" is as inspired as it is unexpected, with Homme and Hughes giving the song a louche glam-rock beat and replacing the synths with wailing, "Immigrant Song"-style backing vocals.
On the other hand, while "Silverlake (K.S.O.F.M.)"'s skewering of a self-important hipster is funny, it also feels dated -- its namesake L.A. neighborhood was barely relevant as a counterculture mecca when the last EODM album was released. Nevertheless, as "The Reverend" closes things with another shot of the band at its finest, it underscores that even an inconsistent Eagles of Death Metal album is still a lot of fun.