Queens of the Stone Age ‘…Like Clockwork’

July 12, 2013 8:36 pm

Emerging from ‘the fog’, [Hommes’ near-death experience 2010] ‘…Like Clockwork’ marks the long-awaited return of Queens of the Stone Age. But the wait was worth it. They came back with a shiny guest list! Not that they needed it. In the run up to the release, much was mentioned of the guest list including: Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys), Jake Shears (Scissor Sisters), Trent Raznor (Nine Inch Nails), Elton John (that guy, y’know, ELTON JOHN) and old members, Nick Oliveri and Mark Lanegan. (personally more excited by those guys.

The return is emphasised by the opening of broken glass found in ‘Keep Your Eyes Peeled’. The first track is a strong start. An old-familar strum of Hommes’ guitar, is a moment of relief for fans, that familiar feeling that the band you love is back. ‘Keep Your Eyes Peeled’ stomps darkly, with equally inky black vocals. “The view from hell is blue sky, suggests the only direction is up from ‘the fog’, a recurring theme. The spooky feel could’ve come from Lullabies To Paralyze.

By contrast, the next track ‘I Sat By The Ocean’ is a tune to dance to. The stylish, slick, old-smirk from Queens comes back and takes no prisoners. Mistakes and ‘crashing ships’ being the theme to this. Likening ships to people, the story starts as ‘passing ships’. ‘Smooth Sailing’ and ‘If I Had a Tail’ are equally danceable.

‘Smooth Sailing’ being dirty, slinky and sounds like ‘if Eagles of Death Metal, Them Crooked Vultures and Queens of the Stone Age all got together to make a tune…’ of course all three being an extension of Homme’s work, the track fits. It’s excessive, “I blow my load over the status quo, here we go”, fun, but still has a dark vein in it. “I’ve got nothin’ to lose, And only one way up”. Nevertheless, it’s tempting.

‘If I Had a Tail’, is a highlight. An irresistible rhythm and brash lyrics, makes you hang on to every line. A slick dance tune, sure to be popular live and it’ll probably get a bit sweaty in the crowd. Simply played, sexy and addictive. The gravelly vocal backing courtesy of Lanegan, it then ends with an eerie pinch of Alex Turner.

josh homme‘My God Is The Sun’ you may have heard a fair few times on rock radio is that unsubtle reminder of the excessive nature of their back catalogue. It thunders and races like a V8 muscle car. It says ‘I’m back!’ and mentions nothing about the long wait. But you don’t care!

On the flip side of the album, it croons and in places, is heart-breaking. ‘The Vampyre of Time and Memory’ is the saddest song they’ve ever written. It’s delicate vocals and piano are unforgettable.’Kalopsia’ is such a lullaby. It’s strangely comforting. Begins to relax you before shocking with a chorus that’s like shafts of light breaking through its lullaby core. It’s gorgeous.

‘Fairweather Friends’ breaks a little away from the album in its sound. But it’s spirited, forceful and belts out fuzzy riffs, stitched together with the patter of piano keys and crashing cymbals. You can try not to sing along, go ahead. You’ll fail.

‘I Appear Missing’ is awesome track. It could be a rock opera, touching so many themes. It sounds big, massive in fact. The images… vivid. The lyrics…touching. The atmosphere is transformed from the previous track, it’s raw and serious. The guitar breakdowns are enough to make you weak, Queens are perfectly in sync. This is one of the best tracks they’ve ever recorded.

The album ends with the title track, another piano number with the line “One thing that is clear. It’s all down hill from here.” It’s open for interpretation insist Queens, it doesn’t necessarily mean the worst. As the album ends, you’re left with the silence and intake the last 45 minutes.

If there is one criticism, there isn’t much of the adrenaline fuelled, head shaking, drive through the desert, dense craziness like in ‘Sick, Sick, Sick’ or ‘Go With The Flow’. ‘My God Is The Sun’ has that familiar wild excess, but the rest is mature and moving and that’s OK.

Queens might have been gone a while, but they never left. They’re not a band that need to lean on the shiny guest list. When that much effort goes into making a record, when sounds bounce around your head for days, they didn’t need to worry. Some bands take too long to return, and return with a disappointing effort. But not Queens. They’re not just ‘some’ band.

It’s a true 21st century rock record. Mind-blowing. Probably the best rock record of the year, unless you’re a Sabbath fan. 8/10

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