Review Summary: One of the greatest rock albums of all time.
I didn’t know quite what I had stumbled onto when I first purchased …Like Clockwork
. I was making the summer pass by helping my dad rebuild our deck, and I spent most of my mornings priming and painting wooden boards in my parent’s basement. Amid the humidity and cloud of fumes, I’d take the crappy old stereo player that used to belong to me when I was thirteen, dust it off, and pop this record in on repeat. I didn’t have a lot of time for music in 2013. I was teaching, trying to make extra money in the summer to pay for an engagement ring I couldn’t afford, and not really staying up-to-date on new musical releases. I must have listened to …Like Clockwork
fifty times that summer, and I grew fond of the feeling I’d get when that dirty groove would kick in on ‘Keep Your Eyes Peeled.’ It always got me hyped to get my ass in gear – to put in the work for whatever project I happened to be in the middle of that day.
Outside of an appreciation for the sheer amount of time that I shared with it though, …Like Clockwork
didn’t fully register with me until about a year ago. It happened amidst the general realization that I was digesting music faster than I could appreciate it; albums I’d hail as a classic would be old news a few weeks later as I moved on to the latest and greatest. It left me with a bit of a hollow feeling; like somehow my critiques were diminished by the fact that they were so transient in nature. How could I possibly affix an esteemed status to an album that I couldn’t be bothered to pay more than a handful of listens to？ In what amounted to rebellion by retreat, I reverted to the musical fetal position and closed myself off to Spotify and Apple. I rifled through a bunch of old boxes in my storage, located …Like Clockwork
, and put it in a good old fashioned CD player. I don’t mean to sound overdramatic, but what happened next restored my faith in music.
took me back in time. When the opening riff to ‘Keep Your Eyes Peeled’ began, I could smell the paint and feel the sweat on my forehead as I nailed boards together. It transported me to a simpler time – when saving money meant working odd jobs for my parents and neighbors, and when buying an album meant something
because you were forced to spend time with it for better or worse, rather than streaming and disposing of artists’ hard work faster than anyone could possibly process it on a meaningful level. The album’s back half also became illuminated for the modern rock masterpiece that it is. It was suddenly obvious that ‘My God is the Sun’ straight through to the closing track featured six of the greatest rock songs I’d ever heard in my life; all on the same album, all in succession. How did I not notice that before？
To me, that’s what a classic is though. It’s an album that you can appreciate on one level at a certain time in your life, and then in looking back on it fondly, uncover things that you never realized about it before – like the funky, groovy beat in ‘Smooth Sailing’ that is virtually impossible not to strut to, like you’re up to no good. It’s being able to hear ‘Kalopsia’ or ‘Fairweather Friends’ with fresh ears and realize just how addicting the choruses are. My old memories swirled together with an updated perspective, forming a whole new tour de force as well as a stronger appreciation for ... Like Clockwork
in a modern context. If you ask me now, I’ll tell you with a straight face that this is one of the greatest rock albums of all time
Out of the embarrassment of riches on display with …Like Clockwork
, “I Appear Missing” is the track that I’ve always viewed as the epicenter of greatness; a six minute towering rock piece that features a swelling chorus which grows in intensity with every repetition, surrounded by addictive riffs and a mind-blowing drum-fill/piano interchange a little less than halfway through. The track reaches its undeniable zenith at the 4:20 mark, and continues right on through to the end with a complicated, wiry riff that’s joined in by an echoed, ghostly refrain of I never loved anything until I loved you
. It’s everything Queens of the Stone Age have ever been, and likely all they ever will be encapsulated in one particular moment of rock mastery; one that I’d argue reaches historic levels of greatness. The whole experience then comes to a close with the elegant pianos, smooth/sprawling vocals, and winding electric guitars of the title track; a fitting end to the magic captured across …Like Clockwork
’s impeccable back half.
This is now an album I associate with a lot of things. It’s no longer just about humble summers as a young adult trying to make ends meet - it represents the dividends paid by immersing yourself in a work for an extended period of time, whether it’s a home project or an album. It’s about putting in a real time commitment, and then looking back at the finished product years later with admiration as well as through a new lens. In this case, …Like Clockwork
aged even better than wine, becoming a high water mark for rock in the 2010’s. It’s a genre-defining masterpiece, and one that I’ll always recall as the biggest grower of my life.