In a way, Queens of the Stone Age’s latest album Villains calls to mind the last unequivocally great Rolling Stones record, Some Girls. Back in the day, some fans of the “Disco Sucks” persuasion threw a fit over the now-ubiquitous single “Miss You.” The so-called “Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World” releasing a disco song? Oh, the horror!

Produced by Amy Winehouse collaborator and Uptown Special mastermind Mark Ronson, Villains seems poised to provoke a similar response from the death-or-glory, sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll set. Desert rock’s most commercially successful spawn forgoing the fuzzy distortion that is their birthright? And hooking up with the guy who did that — blech — pop song “Uptown Funk” with Bruno Mars? It’s enough to make a beer-bellied metal fanatic cry into his beard.

But QOTSA head honcho Josh Homme won’t mind too much if Villains’ squeaky clean sound, sprightly beats and touches of new wave synthesizer turn off some of the people who gobbled up Rated R and Songs for the Deaf. In fact, that seems to have been the idea.

Earlier this year, Homme told the New York Times, “This is our seventh record, and we’re lucky enough — forget lucky, we’ve worked hard enough to have our own sound.”

Homme continued, “But I worry about being too static, that it becomes a parody of itself. So I just was, like, we need to burn the effigies of things we would normally do, and to hang on to the idea of who we are but redefine our sound for modern days. For this record, it was like, man, we should risk our own reputations. We should take our old sound and screw it over.”

That fear of self-parody pervades the third track on Villains, “Domesticated Animals:” [LISTEN]

You can find a variation of this theme in “Un-Reborn Again,” which warns against trying to stay young forever: [LISTEN]

Homme doesn’t wallow in self-consciousness, though. On the amped-up rockabilly raver “The Way You Used to Do,” he celebrates the life that he’s made with his wife, ex-Distillers front-woman Brody Dalle: [LISTEN]

Ultimately, that playful, ecstatic spirit is what puts Villains over. It makes the album’s catchy tunes, jerky rhythms and crooned vocals feel like setting sail for new waters, not a desperate bid for hipness.

At times, Homme’s singing on Villains — the most confident and nuanced of his career, incidentally — sounds uncannily, like that of rock’s greatest chameleon, David Bowie. This quote from the Thin White Duke sums up the feeling of the album nicely: “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”