Well. Here we are again. A new Queens of the Stone Age album. It's been six years since the disappointing Era Vulgaris, eight since the equally 'meh' Lullabies to Paralyze, and over a decade since their last really exciting album, Songs for the Deaf. The goodwill from those albums - and for lynchpin member Josh Homme's other projects, especially Eagles of Death Metal and Them Crooked Vultures - has kept the home fires burning for many a QOTSA fan during the last ten years.
However, it's fair to say there's a lot riding on this album - especially as line-up ructions during recording saw the reunion of Homme with QOTSA purple period cohorts Nick Oliveri, Mark Lanegan and Dave Grohl. As well as a few more celebrity friends, such as (take a deep breath) Trent Reznor, Alex Turner, the boy singer from the Scissor Scissors and the rocket man himself, Elton John. On the face of it, …Like Clockwork has more in common with one of Homme's Desert Sessions compilations than a Queens album proper.
Indeed, it's a much more fractured record than you'd typically expect from QOTSA: drastic shifts in tone take place from song to song - most jarringly between the staccato, angular opener 'Keep Your Eyes Peeled' and the flowing groove of 'I Sat By the Ocean' to the synth-driven 'Vampyre of Time and Memory'. The tidal wave of guest stars doesn't help, either. Some are obtrusive - such as Reznor on Kalopsia and John on 'Fairweather Friends' - and just add to the inconsistent tone of the album.
But after about the third or fourth listen, something shifts. The rough joins start to matter less. Snippets of vocals and riffs pop up unannounced in your brain at odd moments. The quality of the songwriting emerges. Some of the songs on this album are among the best Homme has ever penned. Lead single 'My God is the Sun' is a superb slice of old-style Queens from the Rated R era. 'If I Had a Tail' is a filthy, evil fuck beast of a song. 'I Appear Missing' is a six-minute epic that builds to an utterly transcendent crescendo. It's an album to wallow in, that worms its way into your fibres.
This isn't a Rated R or a Songs for the Deaf. But it's not a Lullabies to Paralyze or Era Vulgaris either. It's a different beast, a marriage between a cohesive Queens of the Stone Age album and the more disjointed Desert Sessions. It's not entirely successful, but also it's far from a failure - and it's certainly a unique piece of art that shouldn't be dismissed after the first or second listen.
7Kev Eddy's Score