Queens of the Stone Age
...Like Clockwork


3.9
excellent

Review

by Hernan M. Campbell STAFF
June 4th, 2013 | 566 replies


Release Date: 06/03/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Josh Homme & Co. return with a stellar album that blends their many influences and idiosyncrasies together, but it's not quite the 'return-to-form' we all hoped it would be.

Queens Of The Stone Age certainly stirred up quite a lot of hype when they announced their return to the public eye. After all, it has been 6 years since they've released Era Vulgaris, and within that time frame, Josh Homme appeared so preoccupied with his other musical endeavors that it seemed as if he had lost all interest in what is 'supposed' to be his primary band. Though to say that hadn't accomplished anything major within that state of hiatus from Queens Of The Stone Age, would be utterly fictitious. In fact, for a time, it seemed as if Josh Homme was finally becoming acquainted with his own creative potential, releasing two critically acclaimed albums such as Eagles Of Death Metal's Heart On and even joining forces with musical juggernauts like Foo Fighter's Dave Grohl and Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones to record Them Crooked Vultures' debut album. Josh Homme even found some time to guide the Arctic Monkey's through their journey down the rabbit hole in Humbug. Of course, in retrospective, each of those aforementioned albums were nothing more than a rehash of the machismo-fueled rock and roll that is encountered throughout his entire discography, but one can't argue with the fact that Josh Homme has a knack for writing rock tunes that are as thrilling as they are infectiously catchy. And so, after spending 6 years showing off his seemingly boundless bag of tricks, one could only anticipate what he had in store for the next Queens Of The Stone Age album.

To say …Like Clockwork is just another 'Josh Homme album' would be an accurate description of its content, but the same can't be said for its description as a Queens Of The Stone Age album. It's true that Josh Homme offers us, yet again, his usual brand of desert rock, but …Like Clockwork doesn't quite exhibit the typical Queens Of The Stone Age game plan. At first glance, it may seem like the band is working in a familiar territory, with …Like Clockwork's moody, desert sound being but an echo of an atmosphere once conjured up in Songs For The Deaf and again in Lullabies To Paralyze, but the music is engineered uniquely different from anything else before it. That isn't to say that Queens Of The Stone Age have suddenly discovered a new style of playing, but instead have taken certain elements from previously written songs; the haunting atmosphere in "Someone's In The Wolf" and "A Song For The Deaf", the slowed down melodies of "Into The Hollow" and "Auto Pilot", and even the quasi-progressive arrangements that was occasionally explored in songs like "Better Living Through Chemistry", to the point where each musical component is broken down, then blended together to simulate the illusion that we're listening to something new.

Although despite my mild cynicism, …Like Clockwork, as I previously mentioned, is not an ordinary offering from that little ol' band from Palm Springs. There's quite a handful of guest stars that have been invited to this reunion party of sorts to help Queens Of The Stone Age renovate their style. Some names are familiar like Dave Grohl, Mark Lanegan, and Josh Homme's latest desert rock protégé, Alex Turner, while others come as a bit of a surprise, such as Elton John, Trent Reznor, and Jake Shears. And as usual, with practically every new chapter that's added into this story of precarious journeys and intractable characters that is Queens Of The Stone Age's career, we again encounter another departure- this time, drummer Joey Castillo, who has been permanently replaced by the talented Jon Theodore. Though despite the various guest stars and the latest change in the band's roster, …Like Clockwork is still reminiscent of the group's signature gritty sound and sinister vibe, but there is a lack of instant knockouts here like "No One Knows" and "Regular John". Indeed, …Like Clockwork isn't quite as seductive as one would assume, in fact, it's a bit of tease. One that demands a serious commitment before unveiling its voluptuous qualities-- and even then, as it denudes itself and exposes all it has to offer, what we witness isn't quite as titillating as we hoped.

Rather than the conjuring up another thrilling onslaught of power and precision, Queens Of The Stone Age went in a new direction with this album, one that's more focused and mildly ambiguous. Songs like "Keep Your Eyes Peeled" and "I Appear Missing", with their mellow demeanors and sturdy melodicism, showcase an agenda that is more preoccupied with providing a mind-bending jam rather than just merely rocking out. Though just because the emphasis here is on melody and coordination, as opposed to heavy guitar riffs and tantalizing solos, doesn't mean these songs lack any sense of vitality. In fact, Queens Of The Stone Age prove to their audience that a layered composition, one that unravels slowly through time and takes the listener through a journey of fantastical ambiences and complex orchestrations, can be equally as invigorating as hard rock anthems like, say, "Go With The Flow". The highlights in …Like Clockwork are certainly much more different than those of its predecessors. Where we once searched through the tracklistings, looking for an instant hit, …Like Clockwork forces us to solely interact with conceptual songs that require repeated spins to fully appreciate. Now, there's nothing wrong with an album striving for artistry rather than appeal, but when the majority of the song tend to follow along the same fabricated arrangement of slowed down grooves and psychedelically-tinged ambiences, one can't help but feel a bit claustrophobic.

Songs like "Kalopsia" and "Like Clockwork" are some of the most emotive and elaborate pieces that Queens Of The Stone Age have ever written, which makes them all the more welcomed because we get to see Queens Of The Stone Age tapping into their experimental side by applying layers of textures and erratic moods that we rarely see them conjure up. Even Josh Homme shows a sense of maturity in his performance as a frontman. He doesn't reprise his typical 'guitar hero' persona that he often loves to project, instead, we get to see him embrace the performance of a singer rather than that of a guitarist. In fact, it's Josh Homme's singing that carries most of the music rather than an onslaught of riffs and solos, an approach that revitalizes the sensual and hypnotic atmosphere that Queens Of The Stone Age has proven to be more than capable of in the past. "Keep Your Eyes Peeled" is a great example of this. His voice is so mystical and inviting here, but the reason it's such a captivating performance is because he's actually reminiscing about something deeper in his lyrics, something more abstract and philosophical, as opposed to the usual tales of promiscuity and debauchery. In its strive for artistic credibility, …Like Clockwork does live up to its hype. There are no generically fabricated rock tunes here, and in fact, …Like Clockwork hardly ever finds itself making any mistakes, but for some reason, it's just not as captivating as its predecessors. Now, don't get me wrong, this is indeed an accomplishment effort, and one that truly showcases Queens Of The Stone Age finally honing their sound and shifting their best qualities into masterful works, but aside from being able to witness the group deepening their skills, one can't help but miss the days when their music thrived on raw guitar work and a slick bravado attitude. Despite the album's brilliant moments, and it’s mostly skillfully constructed songs, I simply couldn't help but feel underwhelmed by the whole listening experience.

Which brings me back to my initial point, it's true that this album is more coherent and conceptual when compared to most of their previous works. ...Like Clockwork focuses on emotional and sensuous balladry as opposed to the usual machismo-fueled rock and roll, which is a major transition for the band, but a lot of the tracks that are handed down may initially feel like grains of sand slipping through our fingers, rather than something that can be easily grasped. Most of the songs here are growers, and even the one's that are supposed to be immediate tunes like "My God Is The Sun" and "If I Had A Tail", don't quite grab and hold on to our attention like "No One Knows" or "Little Sister" did in the past. I suppose this album is tougher to 'get' because this is the first time Queens Of The Stone Age are not constructing an album that is about individual standouts, but rather a set of songs that together illustrate a greater portrait. It's almost like watching a film, in which the individual scenes mean nothing to us unless we see the movie from beginning to end. Everything here is meant to conjure up a thematic mood and setting, one that takes us away to lose ourselves in a nocturnal, desert scenery.



Recent reviews by this author
Trioscapes Digital Dream SequenceBroken Bells After The Disco
Sound and Fury (FI) PulsacionJail Weddings Meltdown: A Declaration of Unpopular Emotion
Chick Corea The VigilPond (AUS) Hobo Rocket
user ratings (1595)
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....

    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."...

  • Greg Fisher STAFF (4.5)
    QOTSA return with a bang, delivering a solidly constructed record that's imbued with seduc...


Comments:Add a Comment 
SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2013


4452 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

I kind of returned to my "6 hefty paragraphs of tl;dr" style on this one, and I apologize for the length, I've been at a loss for time and haven't quite gathered my thoughts as well as I'd like. Anyway, enjoy.


YoYoMancuso
June 3rd 2013


11187 Comments


lol this is massive, really well-written though. also your avatar is the balls.

Rev
June 3rd 2013


9439 Comments


great review Hernan! I still need this


HOLY SHIT WHEN DID JON THEODORE JOIN QOTSA

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2013


4452 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

Thanks guys.

@Rev
I dont know the exact time but it was announced a few months before the album was revealed. But unfortunately he only plays on one track.

Rev
June 3rd 2013


9439 Comments


oh that's a bummer, does dave play on the rest?

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2013


4452 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

Yeah, it sucks, I guess he joined too late. And yes, Dave is actually the primary drummer here. If you want to hear Jon's drumming here check out the title track, for Dave look into "My God Is the Sun" or "I Appear Missing - easily two of the best track here.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
June 4th 2013


10352 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Skimming through this now, looks pretty nice, Hernan. Let me know if you want detailed feedback.

Is this a good place to start with QOTSA? I feel excluded from this hype-train.

CK
June 4th 2013


4946 Comments


Sometimes I imagine you getting dressed in a suit and tie just to sit down and write a review

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
June 4th 2013


4452 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

@Omaha
Yeah, man, if you have the time I'd love to hear your thoughts/suggestions.

@CK
I actually like to write in the nude. Makes me feel kinky.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
June 4th 2013


3472 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Huge review, but I agree with it. It works as a whole, it doesn't have an immediate hit single or a powerhouse. I hope they release I Appear Missing as a single, though.

I've read that about two years ago or so, Homme had a knee surgery that went wrong and almost died. He was reluctant to start making music again, thinking it doesn't mean much and had better things to do (like spending time with family). That's why the record had been delayed even more than it should have. The Vampyre Of Time And Memory is about the moments he almost died.

Digging: Amplifier - The Octopus

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
June 4th 2013


4452 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

Thanks Insomniac. I was still a bit "meh" about this review and I just edited some stuff out. I feel like it's much stronger review
now. I've been finding various occurrences that keep taking up a lot of my free time. Oh well.

I hand't heard about Josh Homme's incident. That's terrible, but thank god he made it out alive.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
June 4th 2013


7428 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Kick-ass review Hernan even though I obviously don't agree with you in many cases... especially when you imply there's no strong highlights on this album. But, to each his own. This may be my favorite QOTSA record.

Digging: Wildbirds & Peacedrums - Rhythm

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
June 4th 2013


4452 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

Thanks, Greg. This review was a bit rushed, but I was able to do some last minute ninja edits to get it just right (at least I think I did.)

I mean there are some strong highlights like "My God Is The Sun", but I dont know, I feel like it's trying to hard to sound like something straight out of Songs For The Deaf. I think this is a good album, but right now it's probably my third least favourite- beating Era Vulgaris and Lullabies.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
June 4th 2013


7428 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm a huge fan of Lullabies tbh. It definitely has some of their strongest material. I think it's underrated. Of course Era Vulgaris is easily their worst.

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
June 4th 2013


4452 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

I actually don't hate Lullabies or Era, they're just not as good as the others. I enjoy them both very much. And I agree that Lullabies is underrated, but I'd also say Era doesn't get the credit it deserves. For example, I was listening to "Misfit Love" like 3 times today, I still think it's one of QOTSA's finest tracks.

SubtleBody
June 4th 2013


519 Comments


Lullabies to Paralyze fucking rules

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
June 4th 2013


3472 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Sgt. Pepper - Yeah, I wasn't aware of this until a couple of days ago. Here's the interview with Homme - http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/news/upcoming_releases/josh_homme_i_didnt_want_to_play_music_anymore_because_i_died_on_an_operating_table.html

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
June 4th 2013


3485 Comments


not quite the return to form


3.9/5


Good review, have a mind-pos. Would you like some feedback from me as well?

EvoHavok
June 4th 2013


1475 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oh man, your writing is beyond fantastic.

Digging: Bloodbath - Grand Morbid Funeral

MikeC26
June 4th 2013


3202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

end of I Appear Missing gives me goosebumps



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy