...Like Clockwork

Queens Of The Stone Age

Matador Records, 2013

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/24/2013

Could it be that Queens Of The Stone Age have finally broken through the glass ceiling and are headed towards receiving the acclaim they have been seeking since 1996? For the longest time this possibility did not seem particularly likely, but …Like Clockwork’s debut at the top of the Billboard 200 signifies an entirely new direction for Josh Homme and Co.

I wouldn’t categorize Homme’s previous work as necessarily being indulgent, but there was a tendency towards meandering. Songs For The Deaf was a record that had amazing potential, but was weighed down by the concept. On the other hand, the hit single “No One Knows” offered a tantalizing glimpse of what QOTSA was capable of delivering.

That promise went unrealized with 2007’s Era Vulgaris, a record that in my eyes defined what was the most uninteresting about QOTSA. It’s grungy, acid rock-tinged influence certainly is something Homme has experience with, but the album just never came together. And here, six years later, is my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 ...Like Clockwork to be the record Era Vulgaris should have been. Instead of going deeper into the sounds of those specific genres, Homme retreated a bit to what is undoubtedly the “safer” choice, but actually turns out to be more rewarding.

There are classic rock elements to ...Like Clockwork, which can be traced directly to why the album works as well as it does. 70’s Hard rock characterizes the bulk of what’s there, but late-period Beatles and Floydian progressive rock creeps into the mix as well (How can you listen to the intro to “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” and not immediately make a connection to Dark Side Of The Moon?). “I Appear Missing” harkens to the slow, purposefulness of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” even down to the wailing guitar solo at track’s conclusion. “Fairweather Friends” brings in the Rocket Man himself, Elton John to deliver background vocals and piano.

Of course, that’s not to say that ...Like Clockwork has it eyes permanently fixed to the past. I loved the brassiness and strut of “Smooth Sailing,” which is QOTSA’s take on a track like Muse’s “Supermassive Black Hole.”  “My God Is The Sun” is a straight-ahead rock track that could have been lifted off of any Foo Fighters album (Coincidence that Dave Grohl provides the drumming? I think not). “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” beings with the aforementioned DSOTM-styled introduction, but immediately drops into an amazing grunge/sludge sound. Michael Shuman’s fuzz bass conveys an amazing sense of menace that permeates the entire track. And the final title track has a mournful beauty to it, that stands alone amongst the QOTSA catalogue. Homme displays an acute sense of tenderness that shows growth from records past.

QOTSA fans would probably disagree with this assessment, but ...Like Clockwork is the first record the group has released that is deserving of its reception, critically and commercially. The stoner/”desert” rock components of QOTSA’ previous albums definitely created a barrier of entry for the casual rock fan, with the occasional exception to the rule (“No One Knows”). While Homme has definitely not turned his back on his roots with QOTSA and Kyuss, he has modified the approach to deliver more satisfying results.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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