For the better part of the last twenty years, Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme has been churning out drug addled hard rock classics under multiple different guises ranging from the classic stoner inoculated riffing of Kyuss to the classic rock inspired Them Crooked Vultures. The man’s subtle yet impressive and prolific repertoire spans a unique spectrum that makes many of hard rock’s more active militants pale dejectedly in comparison. While Homme has been a part of many varying influential outfits, his brainchild act, Queens of the Stone Age, is arguably the most commercially successful as well as influential. With ..Like Clockwork, Queens of the Stone Age successfully combine what has made them an irreplaceable staple of the popular hard rock movement for the majority of the last decade all while keeping things fresh and oftentimes innovative amongst stark, straightforward Jack Daniels drenched anthems.
Unlike the band’s most recent, spastic and loud studio release Era Vulgaris, …Like Clockwork’s overall sound favors a more subdued, orderly and organic mix of instrumentation. All the elements that have elevated the band to international fame are present here, from the loud, gain-driven powerful guitar chords to the original and ever intriguing vocal melodies and harmonies. The album as a whole doesn’t instrumentally rip quite as hard as what many consider to be the band’s masterworks, Songs for the Deaf and Rated R, but that isn’t to say it doesn’t bring the meaty riffing that made the band so endearing in the first place. Tracks such as the LP’s first single, “My God Is The Sun” and “I Sat By The Ocean” are prime examples that the band hasn’t forgotten their guitar focused roots.
While …Like Clockwork may be a bit lacking to some in fist pumping badass-ness upon initial listen, repeated listens soon reveal many underlying, addictive curves and twists. “Fairweather Friends” is a stand out track and an example of the aforementioned as the chorus melds impressive, interconnected piano and string lines that harken back to the golden age of 60s and 70s rock n’ roll. The following track, “Smooth Sailing” is also worthy of decoration as it trots along at an almost arrogant pace, with classic witty lyricisms like “if reason is priceless then there’s no reason to pay for it” and “I blow my load over the status quo,” with enough finger licking fretwork and beefy drumming to feed an entire family for days.
One interesting thing about …Like Clockwork is its guest appearances, which range from Nine Inch Nails frontman, Trent Reznor on “Fairweather Friends” and “Kalopsia” to Sir Elton John who makes one of the more apparent and well executed guest performances on “Fairweather Friends.” The record does contain a rather impressive entourage of guest musicians to be certain but one can’t help but feel they are underutilized. So much so, that they are often barely even noticeable placed most often as backing harmonies during the tracks’ climaxes and buried low in the mix.
By far the biggest fault of …Like Clockwork lies in the cohesiveness of the album as a whole. While previous releases by the band achieve an endearing continuance that made them more than simply a sum of their parts, Queens of the Stone Age’s most recent studio offering feels more akin to a collection of songs as opposed to an album. Although the tracks themselves bring a lot to the table, when viewed as a whole there just seems to be that “something” missing that made the previously mentioned opuses Songs For The Deaf and Rated R so special. Regardless, there’s a lot here for new and old fans alike to sink their teeth into. …Like Clockwork showcases a fearlessly talented and ever-entertaining band at arguably the apex of their career as of the last decade (Songs for the Deaf being released in 2002) and is by all means essential listening to fans and naysayers of their previous couple albums alike.
1. Keep Your Eyes Peeled
2. I Sat by the Ocean
3. The Vampyre of Time and Memory
4. If I Had a Tail
5. My God Is the Sun
7. Fairweather Friends
8. Smooth Sailing
9. I Appear Missing
10. …Like Clockwork