Queens of the Stone Age
...Like Clockwork


4.5
superb

Review

by Greg Fisher STAFF
May 25th, 2013 | 2014 replies


Release Date: 06/03/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: QOTSA return with a bang, delivering a solidly constructed record that's imbued with seductive quality.

As the merciless rule aptly indicates, you're as good as your latest album. Queens of the Stone Age tarnished their enviable reputation as one of the world's most consistent rock acts six years ago by releasing the uninspired Era Vulgaris. Following on such a misfire, Josh Homme made the best decision he could by taking a break from his prime outfit, which gave him an opportunity to focus on other projects. The most notable of which was Them Crooked Vultures. The supergroup which also featured such pivotal musicians as John Paul Jones and Dave Grohl hit hard on their self-titled debut, delivering a tour-de-force hard rock ride that burst with restless energy and creativity. It also made it evident that Homme, once the catalyst for the ground-breaking work of Kyuss, didn't lose his verve and songwriting prowess. The new Queens of the Stone Age endeavour ...Like Clockwork continues to capture Homme at the top of his game, proving that the band's previous disc was only a fluke.

At this point many fans have expected ...Like Clockwork to be a trip down memory lane to the glory days of Rated R and Songs for the Deaf, the two turn-of-the-millennium stoner rock classics. Instead, the new record expands on the robot rock aesthetic of the act's 2005 release Lullabies To Paralyze, bringing repetitive grooves to the fore. Homme has an uncanny knack for placing them in an intriguing context, whether it's an ominous dirge of “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” or sun-soaked melodicism of “I Sat By The Ocean.” In fact, the dichotomy between the dark and the light propels the entire record, making for an effectively diverse and mood-switching presentation in which booming heavy rockers are juxtaposed with plodding piano ballads to supreme effect.

What's more, ...Like Clockwork seems more focused than any other Queens of the Stone Age effort. The emphasis is on full-fledged songs in lieu of improvisation. Every track is rendered with admirable precision, retaining the attributes that have always made the outfit's music such a precious commodity. There's rock swagger on display which, along with hook-centric songcraft, desert vibes and a dash of flamboyance, makes for a truly seductive sound both deeply ingrained in the 1970s and relatively novel. On top of that, Homme puts in his most enthralling vocal performance thus far, making the transitions between his natural voice and signature falsetto even smoother.

The LP showcases Queens of the Stone Age at their most immediate when it revolves around robust cuts that amaze with a unique symbiosis of dense riffs and tight rhythms. “If I Had A Tail” is utterly enchanting in its progression from brisk verses to a stomping grandeur of its chorus, while “Smooth Sailing” takes one simple blues pattern and expands it into one manic jam featuring irreverent, yet instantly quotable lyrics. In contrast, “My God Is The Sun” trades malicious for liberating with its exquisite blend of sun-drenched riffs and powerful melodies. “Fairweather Friends” is equally uplifting, yet it colours the band's trademark style with piano-invoked sentimentality and cinematic splendour. Another undoubted highlight comes with “I Appear Missing,” a blissful psychedelic epic that overflows with sinister atmosphere built around brooding soundscapes and earnest vocals.

Although the album sports numerous guest contributions, Homme remains in the limelight throughout its entire running time. His dominating presence only reaffirms his artistic independence. It strikes me as admirable that he refuses to look back, redefining the style of Queens of the Stone Age with every new release. With all its sonic diversity, consistency and precision, ...Like Clockwork is an impressive step in the right direction.




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user ratings (1604)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • bmon13 (5)
    One of the most important albums of my life (thus far)...

    Nick Morley (5)
    TL;DR: It's an incredible album that just got better with time and context....

    brandaao (4)
    ...Like Clockwork shows a band not afraid to take their characteristic sound and push it i...

    AaronBatt (4)
    The best rock album of 2013?...

  • Minus. (4)
    And like clockwork, QOTSA makes another solid album albeit slightly overrated....

    Jamie Coughlan (3)
    Middle of the road return from QOTSA, that they've been sliding toward for 8 years....

    Paul4 (5)
    The seductive power and engaging Like clockwork .....

    kvltwalter (3.5)
    Josh Homme looks to the past and mixes in a little bit of the darkness into their light, c...

  • BrianE (3.5)
    Queens of the Stone Age look to prove they're more than just a mere rock band....

    Hernan M. Campbell STAFF (3.9)
    Josh Homme & Co. return with a stellar album that blends their many influences and idiosyn...

    Mike C (4)
    "if reason is priceless then there's no reason to pay for it."...

    Peter K. Mark (4)
    Not your average everyday stoner....

  • Alex K. (4)
    "I blow my load over the status quo."...


Comments:Add a Comment 
greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 25th 2013


7464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hernan's review for that should be better and less hyperbolic.

Here's an awesome NPR gig:

http://www.npr.org/event/music/185557912/first-listen-live-queens-of-the-stone-age-like-clockwork

Sanders
May 25th 2013


2361 Comments


Typo of Songs for the Deaf in 2nd paragraph

cracking review, need to check this out

Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
May 25th 2013


21817 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"[i]...Like Clockwork[i]"

excellent review as always, although i wholly disagree. aside from a coupe amazing tracks this didnt resonate with me as much as i hoped

Digging: Todd Terje - It's Album Time

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 25th 2013


7464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks guys. Fixed.

It's grown on me heaps since my first spin. For me, 7 tracks out of 10 are highlights at this point. The LP truly benefits from the fact that it contains 10 songs, and not 13 for example.

Skyhunter
May 25th 2013


48 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

On my first listen I was sure it was beautiful train-wreck, it felt inconsistent. But after jamming everything else they did, it feels like natural progression. Sexy record.

Underflow
May 25th 2013


2675 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, this is really good. Feeling a 4. to SftD's 4.5

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
May 25th 2013


3503 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Strong review, I agree with you. I really like this record, it grows on me with each listen. Homme's vocals are really cool, especially the transitions to falsettos, which are really often on the record. Wish there was a demented track with Oliveri on vocals, for the good times, oh well...
Also, there should've been more power added to the guitars, or at least a harder hitting track, much like Lullabies had.

Digging: Motorpsycho - The Motorpnakotic Fragments

YoYoMancuso
May 25th 2013


11224 Comments


When I heard Jon Theodore was gonna be on this, I knew it would be awesome. Nice review

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
May 25th 2013


3503 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

As far as I know, Jon only played on the title track.

breakingthefragile
May 25th 2013


2966 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hell yeah, that's what I'm talking about Greg. Nailed it with this review.

Digging: Molly Drake - Molly Drake

YoYoMancuso
May 25th 2013


11224 Comments


whatever, based on all the positive attention it's getting i'm sure to check it eventually

halloway
May 25th 2013


684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

What guest appearances are there?

KILL
May 25th 2013


72280 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i'm with INS on this one, unfortunately

Digging: Throwing Muses - Throwing Muses

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 25th 2013


7464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@insomniac15:

After a couple of spins, I think any heavier stoner rock track would feel out of place on this record. But yeah... we will never know. I have a feeling that he had such tracks written for this LP, but somehow didn't include them.

"What guest appearances are there?"

I only spotted Elton John tbh.



insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
May 25th 2013


3503 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Kalopsia - Trent Reznor
If I Had A Tail - Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys), Nick Oliveri
Fairweather Friends - Elton John, Mark Lanegan, Trent Reznor, Nick Oliveri, Brody Dalle
Smooth Sailing - Jake Shears (Scissor Sisters)

They are credited, but most of them (especially on Fairweather Friends) are inaudible. Reznor I'm assuming had a lot to do with the musical direction on Kalopsia, but you never know.

@greg - Yeah, the songs follow the same vibe throughout, but after My God Is The Sun, a harder song could've been the peak. Still, I'm happy with the record the way it is.

XingKing
May 25th 2013


11078 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I have been jamming this album like no other since it leaked. My only complaint is that there aren't more hard hitting tracks similar to My God is the Sun.

breakingthefragile
May 25th 2013


2966 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Two guest appearences from Trent Reznor should be enough reason alone for anyone to immediately listen to this album.

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
May 25th 2013


4458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

I'm not going to read this just yet, but I'm sure it's well written. I am glad that we have different ratings (I have this at a 3.9), like Insurrection said, I thought it was a strong album, but overall not the epic comeback that everyone was hoping for. Still excellent though.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 25th 2013


7464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cool. That makes it more interesting. I knew your review will be less hyperbolic.

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
May 25th 2013


4458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

Oh believe me, I'm capable of hyperbolic claims as well, but I don't know, this didn't "wow" me as much as I was hoping. I
thought it was a great album, but nothing really grabbed my attention like "A Song For The Deaf" from Songs For The Deaf or
"Better Living Through Chemistry" from Rated R. There's more focus here, but no energy, at leas that's how I feel so far.

I'm excited to read this though, after I'm done with mine.



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