music / Reviews

Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork Review

June 13, 2013 | Posted by Andy Rackauskas

QOTSA photo QOTSA_zps696763a7.jpg


Release Date – 6/4/13

1. “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” 5:04
2. “I Sat by the Ocean” 3:55
3. “The Vampyre of Time and Memory” 3:34
4. “If I Had a Tail” 4:55
5. “My God Is the Sun” 3:55
6. “Kalopsia” 4:38
7. “Fairweather Friends” 3:43
8. “Smooth Sailing” 4:51
9. “I Appear Missing” 6:01
10. “…Like Clockwork” 5:24

All lyrics by Josh Homme, except “Kalopsia” – written by Homme and Alex Turner. All songs written by Queens of the Stone Age, except “…Like Clockwork” – written by Homme, James Lavelle and Charlie May and “Fairweather Friends” – written by Queens of the Stone Age and Mark Lanegan.

Josh Homme – lead vocals, guitar, backing vocals, twelve string guitar (9), slide guitar (9)
Troy Van Leeuwen – guitar, backing vocals, percussion, keyboard, twelve string guitar (5, 9), lap steel (6)
Dean Fertita – keyboard, guitar, backing vocals, percussion, piano (6)
Michael Shuman – bass, backing vocals, keyboard (6)

Dave Grohl – drums, percussion (4, 5, 7, 8, 9)
Joey Castillo – drums, percussion (1, 2, 3, 6)
Jon Theodore – drums, percussion (10)
Nick Oliveri – vocals (4, 7)
Mark Lanegan – vocals (4, 7), lyrics (7)
Alex Turner – vocals, guitar (4), lyrics (6)[36]
Trent Reznor – vocals (6, 7), kick, snare (6)
Jake Shears – vocals (1, 8)
Elton John – piano, vocals (7)
Brody Dalle – vocals (4)
Alain Johannes

Josh Homme and Queens of the Stone Age – production
Josh Homme and James Lavelle – production on “…Like Clockwork”
Gavin Lurssen – mastering
Mark Rankin – recording and mixing
Boneface – design, illustrations

Nirvana may have Teen Spirit, but Queens of the Stone Age (QOTSA) are the Secret of deodorants. Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman. Their tunes make the guys want to bang their head and the gals want to shake their money maker. QOTSA’s been putting out amazing heavy groove hard rock for over 15 years. Formed out of the ashes of the under-appreciated Kyuss, QOTSA is all Josh Homme. Much like Nine Inch Nails is Trent Reznor, QOTSA is Homme. There have been a number of incarnations of QOTSA, but Homme and second guitarist, Troy Van Leeuwen, are pretty much the mainstays. Along with Josh and Troy, Dean Fertita (keys) and Michael Shuman (bass) have been around through the last 3 albums. After the departure of Nick Oliveri after their most successful album Songs for the Deaf, many a fan thought QOTSA lost their way and lost their edge. Lullabies to Paralyze and Era Vulgaris had some great songs, but never matched the cohesiveness of Songs for the Deaf. Thankfully, the cohesiveness is back with …Like Clockwork. And just for fun, Homme seemed to invite everyone to the party. From ex-members Mark Lanegan and Nick Oliveri to new guests like Trent Reznor and Elton John. But nothing distracts every song from being a true QOTSA jam. This isn’t a Santana & “so & so” album. It’s QOTSA with a little help.

The album starts off with “Keep Your Eyes Peeled”. It’s basically a prodding, drank jam that sounds like the soundtrack to stalking someone. The rhythm is super infectious. There’s also a bit of a Pink Floyd vibe on this track. It’s in the atmosphere and if feels like beautiful creepiness.

“I Sat by the Ocean” is the perfect break-up song. It has the trademark QOTSA solid groove with just enough oomph. There’s just enough of a 70’s vibe on it without sounding like a blatant era rip-off.

“Vampyre of Time and Memory” isn’t just another “Twilight”/”True Blood” vampire bandwagon jumper. While it’s piano heavy, melancholy and somber, it’s also the best of the slow jams on the album. It’s got a really chill groove that morphs into something very Pink Floyd-ian around the 1:20 mark. It’s simply a darkly beautiful song.

To continue in the darkness, QOTSA lined up “If I Had a Tail” as the next cut on the record. This time around, Homme and crew conjure up a more 80’s new wave vibe almost channeling some of the works by Gary Numan and the Cars. This is most apparent on the chorus. This track needs to be played at night in order to get the full impact of its almost drunken swagger.

Out of the darkness, comes light… “My God I the Sun”, the first single off the album, is the only real hard rocker on the album. And it rocks. It has an unmistakable great riff that is reminiscent of something off of “Songs for the Deaf”. It’s pure unadulterated QOTSA.

“Kalopsia” starts off as a slow jam that eventually builds after about 1 ½ minutes and then chills out again before ending. This track gives the impression of being underwater. The atmosphere is so thick, that you can almost swim through it. Although the song is mostly a very chill effort, there is just enough bombast to balance it out.

“Fairweather Friends” and “Smooth Sailing” are fine examples of a very casual vibe Homme is exploring on the album. The groove is still there, but there’s a very apparent loose swagger also employed.

The album starts to wind down with “I Appear Missing”. It’s prodding and creepy, but ends with a cacophonic slow burn.

Sadly, the album kind of ends with a whimper. While that may be the point, the title track, “…Like Clockwork” is basically not very interesting. The vocals, while prominent, just don’t sound as solid as all the other tracks. I think Homme is trying to be poignant and sound tortured. But it just doesn’t seem to come off all that well. It’s a very introspective song that picks up about 2 ½ minutes in, but it never really seems to hit home. But hey, 9 out of 10 ain’t bad!

The album isn’t perfect by any means. There feels like there is simply too much piano. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it just seems too much. Where some energy is lacking, dark atmosphere makes up for it. The album is night-time music with a new wave sensibility. It’s QOTSA’s goth album. It’s dark, brooding, complex, eerie, and mesmerizing.

Queens of the Stone Age – “My God Is the Sun”

Queens of the Stone Age – “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” (live)

Queens of the Stone Age – “If I Had a Tail” (live)

The 411: All in all, …Like Clockwork is an outstanding record. It’s a bit short, and leaves you wanting more. But, that’s not a bad thing. Best this, than an over-bloated Use Your Illusion I & II. In the pantheon of QOTSA albums, this falls right after their self-titled LP, Songs for the Deaf, and Rated R. It’s simpler, stronger and more interesting than Lullabies to Paralyze and Era Vulgaris. …Like Clockwork is a mature album. It’s dark and brooding. There’s a sadness and an edge to it. While the rock isn’t as crunchy, it’s still as sick as when they put out Rated R in 2000. QOTSA are still indeed rock royalty.
411 Elite Award
Final Score:  8.5   [ Very Good ]  legend

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Andy Rackauskas
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