It’s been six years since the California stoner rock band released their last LP, Era Vulgaris. Suffice to say, it wasn’t their best effort and instability in the band at the time (and since) has proven to be a large obstacle for Queens of the Stone Age.
It even required the band asking Josh Homme to come back and record after knee surgery that left him bedridden for a few months. After apparently experiencing death momentarily he must have had some sort of refreshing epiphany that made him write some brilliant new music. And that’s the background for their latest album, …Like Clockwork.
Extremely catchy and original guitar riffs show that the band are back on top form and Homme’s lyrics are brilliantly put across by his trembling baritone vocals. Every song clearly has input from each member of the band, including the subtle keyboard from Dean Fertita. Despite Joey Castillo leaving less than halfway through the production of the album, Dave Grohl fills in nicely as every song has some groovy drum beats.
The opener, Keep Your Eyes Peeled, starts with a groaning synth ripple, into a mellow drum beat, accompanied by some distorted guitar. Then Josh Homme’s characteristic vocals come in and instantly remind me why I love the band. The album, even from the start, seems to have some more keyboard to it than previous albums, probably because of Dean Fertita’s true membership in the band. The bridges in the song are very simple, maybe a couple of layers of guitar. Some serious pedal-bashing going on.
The next song, I Sat By The Ocean, has some simple walking pace guitar, and a very nice slide solo. The chorus is very nice, despite the strange multitracked vocals. More pedal-bashing. I feel this album has a serious psychedelic feel to it. The irregular breaks in rhythm every now ans again are unexpected.
The next track is The Vampyre of Time and Memory, a more piano-focussed and lyric-driven song that takes away the edge of all the many layers you’d be accustomed to listenig to QotSA. I love how most of their music is quite heavy and fast, and every now and then you hear a very slow and mellow piece, rather like Songs For The Deaf’s Mosquito Song. The song is a memento mori, a statement about the inevitability of death. You can tell Homme had some demons when he wrote the song.
Next is If I Had A Tail, which is brilliant. The strutting guitars backed up by a tight rhythm is a brilliant combination. Very bluesy, the song is a more light-hearted than that before it. Lyrics like ‘tears of pleasure, tears of pain, trickle down your face the same’ do make me smirk each time I listen. A brilliant guitar solo in the middle and some strange whispering vocals at the end make this one of the more memorable songs on the album, plus some practically inaudible vocals from Alex Turner, apparently.
The single from the album, My God Is The Sun, has an upward-and-downward guitar riff backed up with a good rhythm section. The album is littered with collaborations from other musicians, some you might expect, such as the aforemetioned Dave Grohl and vocals from Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner, and an unexpected appearance from Sir Elton John in Fairweather Friends (which is brilliantly pulled off).
Another notable track is Fairweather Friends, which has some vocals and piano from Elton John, of all people. It starts with some Gangsta’s Paradise-esque choir, into a nice guitar lick. Homme’s falsetto voice then joins, a rare appearance. Then you can hear Elton’s vocals just under Homme’s, and it works perfectly somehow. And unbelievably, having Elton John makes the song heavier and bluesier, it’s a strange song. It ends with Homme
My faith has been restored in QotSA in …Like Clockwork, as its brilliant riffs and tight rhythm is complemented by some great lyrics, including some insight into Homme’s own recent experiences, especially the touchy-feely from songs like The Vampyre of Time And Memory. I love how despite the input from different musicians, it retains a very classic Songs For The Deaf-esque sound. This album is going to be one of the highlights of the year.
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