Before Kyuss splintered and Josh Homme went on to form the equally brilliant Queens Of The Stone Age, the band released the excellent valedictory “And The Circus Leaves Town.” Although this album doesn’t quite live up to the lofty standard established by the utter masterpieces “Blues For The Red Sun” and “Welcome To Sky Valley,” it still showcases the creativity and instrumental virtuosity the band was known for. At the same time, it’s perhaps Kyuss’s quietest album, turning down the raging sandstorm of sound that characterized “Blues” and (to a lesser extent) “Sky Valley.” For the most part, “And The Circus Leaves Town” is the kind of album you could play while kicking back with a beer on your porch and not annoy the neighbors. And since it’s predecessors had more of a “play it in your car at full blast with your window rolled down so everyone in a quarter-mile radius can hear it and know you have better taste than they do” vibe, that’s a pretty big departure. It’s still stoner rock, but stoner rock of a somewhat different and less fearsome stripe.Of course, it wouldn’t be a Kyuss album without a few slabs of headbanging metal, and the opening “Hurricane,” “Tangy Sizzle,” and the concluding epic “Spaceship Landing” all fill the bill quite nicely in that regard. Kyuss could lay down a groove with the best of them, and these songs just provided final, convincing proof of that fact. Featuring Josh’s pounding riffs and John Garcia’s signature wail, these songs all rank right up there with “Green Machine,” “Allen’s Wrench,” and a few sections of “Sky Valley” among Kyuss’s most infectious moments. Likewise, the woozy, sludgy quasi-psychedelia of “Thee Ol’ Boozeroony” and “El Rodeo” fits in snugly with the band’s prior instrumental output. It’s elsewhere than Kyuss stretches out their sonic palette. “Blues” and “Sky Valley” did have their share of quieter moments, but not to the extent found here. Josh’s guitar wattage isn’t as abundantly evident as before, and John’s ratio of singing to wailing actually gets to right around one-to-one. “One Inch Man” and “Gloria Lewis” do contain the sun-baked riffage that Josh has made a very nice career out of, but they’re more notable for two of the most relaxed and easygoing tempos of the band’s career. “Phototropic,” “Size Queen” and “Catamaran” also contain a few heavy moments, but they’re still remarkably mellow for Kyuss songs. In the end, I can’t endorse this album as heartily as “Blues” or “Sky Valley.” However, those albums were such classics that they established an incredibly high target, and I’m not sure “And The Circus Leaves Town” was intended to “match” them anyway. Viewed on its own, this is still a remarkable album with the potential for hours of fruitful listening. So I say kick back and enjoy it.