Josh Homme has never been afraid to let his freak flag fly, but he's really outdone himself on this latest offering from Queens of the Stone Age, a 14-track psychological exam set to a virtually irresistible beat. Homme and his crew -- altered on this set to include Troy van Leeuwen and Joey Castillo -- are known for cranking out riffs that start out in left field before burrowing directly into the pleasure center, and that's exactly what they do on the insinuating "Little Sister" and the frantic "Everybody Knows You're Insane." Since he's credited with playing a huge part in midwiving the rebirth of stoner rock, Homme's got a right to play the ooze, and he does so masterfully on the dirgelike "Long Slow Goodbye," which leaves an unctuous cough syrup trail as it lurches along. That's about as far as Lullabies goes, however, in delivering the expected. The band gets in touch with a previously untapped set of roots on "Burn the Witch," a cocky electric blues ditty that gets a sizable grease injection from guest guitarist Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. "You've Got a Killer Scene, Man" reveals Homme to have a flair for transposing Phil Spectorish production values onto gutter-vérité snapshots -- a trip that's made all the merrier by teasing guest vocals from Garbage's Shirley Manson. Heck, Homme even allows himself to channel the spirit of Leonard Cohen on "This Lullaby," a sensual sliver of a song that makes the most of his prematurely wizened baritone. Every bit as narcotic as its title implies, Lullabies to Paralyze goes a long way toward restoring sonic mind alteration's good name.