Album of the Week 26-2013: Queens Of The Stone Age – …Like Clockwork

Queens Of The Stone Age’s mainstream success has always puzzled me. I’m not saying their music isn’t good – au contraire! – but their music isn’t necessarily accessible and Josh Homme is quite obviously the sort of muso yours truly is as well. Having said that, I hope their brand new ‘…Like Clockwork’ will be as successful as ‘Songs For The Deaf’ was over a decade ago, simply because ‘…Like Clockwork’ is quite possibly the best album the band has released yet. It combines the darkness of ‘Lullabies To Paralyze’ with the urgency of the self-titled debut and the eclecticism of their entire discography.

Even though I have always known the band was good, I was quite surprised about the way ‘…Like Clockwork’ turned out. Despite its dark and eclectic nature, the album is probably their most focused yet, which is surprising, given the drummer change in the middle of the recordings and the large array of guest musicians, none of which actually overpower Homme’s vision; would you have noticed Elton John and Mark Lanegan were on this album had you not read it in the credits?

In the end, it doesn’t really matter who is playing on the songs, as long as Homme’s vision is carried out. Sure, I would always love to have John Garcia singing over Homme’s music, but Homme is actually pretty good on this record. He’s never been a great singer, but he comes across very versatile and powerful here. In fact, his fragile approach on both piano ballads (the title track and the fantastic ‘The Vampyre Of Time And Memory’) is nothing less than fantastic. In addition, I doubt if anyone else would be able to match his desperate vocal work on the pitch-black masterpiece that is ‘I Appear Missing’.

As is the case with many Queens Of The Stone Age records, the variation on ‘…Like Clockwork’ is its main merit. Mirroring the epic ‘I Appear Missing’ is the straightforward Rocker ‘My God Is The Sun’ and the brilliant dissonant riffs and desolate atmosphere of album highlight ‘If I Had A Tail’ – which spots the awesome opening line “gitchy gitchy ooh la la, da doo run run” – is contrasted by the sunny California sound of ‘Smooth Sailing’. This keeps the album interesting at all times; those who aren’t sure if they’re going to like the album after the monstrous doom riff of opening track ‘Keep Your Eyes Peeled’ are immediately treated with the lighter, but still powerful Rock of ‘I Sat By The Ocean’.

‘…Like Clockwork’ should have a little something for every fan of Rock music. People frustrated with the fact that there’s not enough of one thing probably never really will understand Queens Of The Stone Age, but I have the idea the band isn’t really concerned about pulling those people in in the first place. The album isn’t by any means the band’s most accessible work, but it definitely includes the focus that ‘Songs For The Deaf’ lacked and that in itself deserves an audience at least the same size as for that record.

Recommended tracks: ‘If I Had A Tail’, ‘I Appear Missing’, ‘I Sat By The Ocean’, ‘My God Is The Sun’

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