Queens Of The Stone Age

...Like Clockwork

Written by: PP on 10/06/2013 22:59:55

...and you thought "Era Vulgaris" from 2007 was weird? After a six-year break from recording, Queens Of The Stone Age return with their sixth studio album "...Like Clockwork", which essentially makes me look like a fool calling their previous album quirky in my review back then, because if there ever was an album absolutely deserving of that adjective, it is this one. Quirky. And kind of groovy, and oddly hypnotic. Definitely avant-garde in many ways, but interpreted through Josh Homme's seemingly never-ending creativity and artistic ambition that surpasses the imagination of us mere mortals on so many levels.

Instead of opening with a big hit as most bands would, QOTSA opt to set the mood of the album to be slightly film noir and experimental straight away with "Keep Your Eyes Peeled", which is all kinds of weird even to fans who enjoyed "Era Vulgaris" thoroughly. With next track, "I Sat By The Ocean", we're right back at the source of QOTSA's success though: the stoner rock inspired, groove-laden riffage and Homme's inimitable approach to vocals. In many ways he'll remind you of Julian Casablancas on the last couple of Strokes records, except here Homme takes way more chances and truly experiments with every element of QOTSA's sound. "If I Had A Tail", for instance, is fairly normal stoner rock in the context of this album, but if you were to compare it to anything off "Songs For The Deaf", let alone anything before that album, it sounds like a totally different band aside from the familiar guitar tone and Homme's echoing wails.

What makes this album even more interesting is the wealth of guest appearances integrated seamlessly into the QOTSA expression. We hear instrumentation and vocals from Dave Grohl, Joey Castillo, Nick Oliveri, Mark Lanegan, Trent Reznor, Brody Dalle, Elton John, Jon Theodore, Jake Shears, Alain Johannes, and Alex Turner, which is an all-star lineup if you ever saw one. They're all in minor roles on the album though, so without checking through the credits you can easily pass through the album without thinking twice, such is the mastery in which Homme orchestrates these people into his vision of how QOTSA in 2013 should sound like.

And that, my friends, is the softest, quirkiest, and weirdest QOTSA we've yet come across. Where the tracks are catchy - such as "My God Is The Sun" - they are not the obvious crowd pleasers like "Sick, Sick, Sick" or "Little Sister". They're more experimental and carry ever more depth on a level that only an established, multiple Grammy nominated rock band can display. But at the same time, while many songs push QOTSA's sounds to its outer limits and beyond, this scribe finds himself skipping to the catchy tracks like "Fairweather Friends" over the more avant-garde offerings of "Kalopsia" or "The Vampyre Of Time And Memory". It's easy to get bewildered by their artistic ambition and automatically call "...Like Clockwork" a masterpiece, but once you take a step back, the depth-laden songs are kind of missing the point: they're interesting, but not beyond their artistic qualities. We'd all rather sit here listening to a groovy song and singing along any day, no matter what you might claim now one week into the album's release. That said, it's impossible to deny the wealth of solid songs on this album, hence I'll award this album:

8

Download: I Sat By The Ocean, If I Had A Tail, My God Is The Sun, Fairweather Friends
For the fans of: Them Crooked Vultures, Eagles Of Death Metal, Mark Lanegan Band, Spinnerette, Young Widows
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Release date 04.06.2013
Matador Records

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