...Like Clockwork

7 June 2013 Music

...Like Clockwork

Queens of the Stone Age

Queens of the Stone Age have always been a bit of an enigma: the band’s line-up constantly changes, their music crosses genres with ease, and their records never quite sound the same. Formed by singer/guitarist Josh Homme shortly after the demise of California stoner-rock outfit Kyuss, the group first rose to prominence with Songs for the Deaf (2002). While they have hardly been prolific in the decade since, their sound has been evolving constantly.

…Like Clockwork is by far their most restrained record yet. While featuring fewer of the hard-hitting stoner-metal riffs to which fans have become accustomed, the group have decided to put a greater focus on dynamics and melody. To this end, many tracks favour smooth vocal and piano work rather than brutal guitars and drums. This approach is aptly demonstrated on ‘The Vampyre of Time and Memory’, which contrasts short bursts of hard rock against what is otherwise essentially a piano-driven ballad. Similarly, ‘Kalopsia’ is a dreamy tune that occasionally rumbles into more familiar desert-rock territory before ultimately returning to its wistful, electro-inspired slumber.

Queens of the Stone Age haven’t completely abandoned their rock roots, however. The first single, ‘My God Is the Sun’, is an absolute sledgehammer, thanks in no small part to the monstrous chops of guest drummer Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana). Malevolent opener ‘Keep Your Eyes Peeled’ is another standout: a track that suggests Homme has been listening to a lot of Nine Inch Nails recently. (NIN’s singer, Trent Reznor, performs on a few tracks.) The pinnacle of …Like Clockwork is saved for ‘Fairweather Friends’, a bombastic rocker that features none other than Sir Elton John. With massive vocal harmonies, dense instrumentation and a frenzied guitar/piano showdown at its climax, it easily stands as one of the band’s best songs to date.

While it might have been the hard rock of singles like ‘No One Knows’ (2002) and ‘Little Sister’ (2005) that made them famous, Queens of the Stone Age have once again shown why they have such a dedicated and diverse fan base: they have the riffs, they have the melodies and they have little regard for genre boundaries. …Like Clockwork may not be an overwhelmingly heavy album, but it is another high-quality release from one of the best rock outfits in operation today.

Matthew Woodward