Review: Queens of the Stone Age,‘…Like Clockwork’


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Queens of the Stone Age⎪…Like Clockwork⎪Matador⎪⎪US Release Date: June 4, 2013

Queens of the Stone Age are: Joshua Homme; Troy Van Leeuwen; Michael Shuman; Dean Fertica

Produced by Joshua Homme & Queen of Stone Age; Songs written by Queens of Stone Age

Introduction

English: Queens Of The Stone Age Live Paris 200508
English: Queens Of The Stone Age Live Paris 200508 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A six-year hiatus, for a band/artist with a ‘cult-like’ following, is often likened to ‘career suicide’.  Sure, Justin Timberlake, a high-profile pop star was the part of an extended hiatus between albums (seven years), but the difference is he is ‘heartthrob JT’, period.  Queens of the Stone Age don’t/ never could hope to have the same profile as the pop standout.  QOTSA have exactly one Billboard top five album to their name, 2005’s Lullabies to Paralyze.  Bucking the trend of others who have experienced a lengthy hiatus to a lesser fan base, Queen of the Stone Age return triumphantly with …Like Clockwork on pace to topping the charts.  Crazy, right? Now that’s a ‘come-up’.

…Like Clockwork is comprised of ten solid, enthralling tracks.  There are no misses or miscues whatsoever; there is truly little to nitpick or to scrutinize.  Ever consistent, Joshua Homme and company have recorded one of 2013’s best albums, without question. In a year where alternative rock has been lauded critically and well received commercially (considering the lot given to music these days), …Like Clockwork joins elite company.  Honestly, I wish “…I had a tail” after listening… LOL!

Examining …Like Clockwork

“Big smile, really a show of teeth / without a care in a world of fear / lonely, you don’t know how I feel / praise God, nothing is as it seems” (Final verse, “Keep Your Eyes Peeled”)

Queen of the Stone Age - Joshua Homme

Keep Your Eyes Peeled” opens mysteriously, almost ghostly, as if the apparition is about to touch down.  A stable six-eight groove settles in and Mr. Homme goes to work lyrically, yielding plenty of memorable moments including “Fallen leaves realize they are no friend of autumn…” The ‘bring it home’ moments arrives on the chorus: “And I know you’ll never believe / I play this as though I’m alright / if life is but a dream, then / wake me”.  Homme provides ample rock-n-roll grit throughout the performance, giving …Like Clockwork a ‘swell’ start.

I Sat By The Ocean” keeps the momentum surging, with a ‘no questions asked’ four-four groove from the get-go.  Filled with all kinds of gems, “I Sat By The Ocean” is cleverly lyrically, profound musically (bluesy guitar licks), and embodies the swagger of rock music through and through.  Whether it’s Homme’s play on words (“Time wounds all the heals / as we fade out of view”), his commanding falsetto, or the overall production, “I Sat By The Ocean” embodies musical excellence.

“If I Had a tail / I’d own the night / If I had a tail / I’d swat the flies” (“If I Had A Tail”)

The Vampyre of Time and Memory” makes nearly makes ‘blackness’ sound celestial. A dark song,  the lyrics to match the sentiment and vibe (“I want God to come / and take me home / cause I’m all alone in this crowd / who are you to me…”).  Even if it is filled with depressing moments, its musicality is undeniable, whether it is the evolution from restraint to intensity, or diversification melodically of the first and second verses.  There’s ample things to praise.  That said, “If I Had A Tail” is even stronger, providing the album with its valedictory moment.  Characterized by a killer driving groove, an classic rock-worth anthemic chorus (that raised fourth in the bass is clever), and stand-out songwriting, “If I Had A Tail” is the gift that keeps giving.  From an initial listen, the conceptual number is a head-nodding hit worthy of multiple repeated listens.

My God is the Sun” is no slouch itself, losing little momentum following “If I Had a Tail”. ‘Balls to the wall’ might be an understatement in describing the epic nature, likely a planned tactic to match the title and overall theme. Though only four minutes in duration, QOTSA allow plenty of instrumental space, so that the music receives as much attention as the lyrics.   Lyrically, Homme matches the weight developed by the music, particularly on the chorus:  “Heal them, like fire from a gun / kneeling, my god is the sun / Heal them, with fire from above…” Electrifying and energetic, “My God is the Sun”, well, rocks!

 “So what’s it gonna take / to get you back in bed? / Gossip, drugs, and snakes / they’re just our best fairweather friends…” (“Fairweather Friends”)

English: Queens of the Stone Age at the Eurock...
English: Queens of the Stone Age at the Eurockéennes of 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kalopsia” begins as a ballad, contrasting the bombast of preceding jam-packed duo “If I Had a Tail” and “My God is the Sun”.  Eventually the chilling, restrained “Rose, tainted eyes / color my sorrow…” transforms into full-throttle, gritty guitars with accentuated jagged rhythm.  Keeping things both balanced and captivating, restraint and the overt oscillate, presenting an interesting, ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ cut.  “Kalopsia” is one-upped by “Fairweather Friends”, a simply magnificent number featuring an electrifying guitar solo, not to mention straight-shooting, humorous lyrics: “Drink wine and screw is all we’ll do, everyday” (Rapgenius brilliantly captures the allusion from a past QOTSA song). Well conceived with Mark Lanegan contributing to the songwriting, “Fairweather Friends” maintains remarkable consistency.

Smooth Sailing” finds Homme letting loose with some of the album’s feistiest, most risqué lyrics (“I’m burning bridges, I destroy the mirage / oh visions of collisions, f**king bon voyage” or “I blow my load over the status quo”). Anchored by a funky groove coupled by Homme’s ‘I.D.G.A.F,’ attitude, ole boy doesn’t lie; “It’s all smooth sailing / from here on out…” On penultimate cut “I Appear Missing”  Homme refrains from his bad@$$ side, instead referencing the ‘rabbit hole’ from Alice in Wonderland (“Shock me awake / tear me apart / penned like a note in a hospital gown / deeper I sleep / further down / the rabbit hole never to be found”). At six minutes, it’s a bit long, but it’s only a minor rub.  “…Like Clockwork” closes strongly, incorporating a ‘best of’ palette; the restrained moments once more transform into full-fledged rock cues.

All said and done, …Like Clockwork is among the very best albums of 2013. A bold comeback unafraid to ‘rock’ whether it is tender falsetto or pedal-to-the-metal guitars, there are few objections, if any, to note.  Six years, if anything, has been kind to Joshua Homme, who sounds as invigorated as ever.

Favorites: “Keep Your Eyes Peeled”; “I Sat By The Ocean”; “If I Had A Tail”; “My God Is The Sun”; “Fairweather Friends”

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLiJxFAk/

Verdict: ✰✰✰✰½

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