Reviewed by Jane Roser
Freddie Mercury once said “I won’t be a rock star. I will be a legend.” With …Like Clockwork, Queens Of The Stone Age’s sixth studio album and their first since 2007, their legacy has been cemented in rock and roll history.
Released today by Matador Records and featuring a plethora of guest musicians (Trent Reznor, Dave Grohl, Elton John, Jake Shears, Alex Turner, Nick Oliveri…Doris Day, Joe DiMaggio! Okay, those last two are from a Billy Joel song, but you get my drift) …Like Clockwork is the most bad ass rock album out this year, if not, dare I say it, in the past decade.
Visceral, intense and almost funereal in it’s delivery, every one of …Like Clockwork‘s ten tracks is a well-woven work of art. Singer, songwriter and guitarist Josh Homme founded Queens Of The Stone Age in 1996. 17 years and a revolving door of band members later, they have reached a plateau.
The album bursts into flames with “Keep Your Eyes Peeled”, a song which opens with the sound of breaking glass and then hits the pedal to the metal, taking off faster than Steve McQueen on the streets of San Francisco. “The Vampyre Of Time And Memory” is a gorgeous piano ballad with sci-fi undertones which sort of reminds me of that 1980 Flash Gordon film. I’ll admit I was almost expecting to hear Freddie Mercury sing “Flash! Ahhh…savior of the universe!” This song also really showcases Homme’s fabulous voice, the fact that he can sound like a crooning balladeer one moment and a bat outta hell the next. That’s range, my friends. “If I Had A Tail” is my favorite song on this album. I love the lyrics: “I wanna suck, I wanna lick. I wanna cry and I wanna spit. Tears of pleasure. Tears of pain. They trickle down your face the same.” At the end of the song, you can faintly hear eerie, ghostly voices saying “we will control the night”, but they may as well have been saying “Redrum! Redrum!” If there was ever a song that could possibly unconsciously produce night terrors, this is it.
“…Like Clockwork”, the eponymous final song on this album, closes with resolute, honest lyrics “Most of what you see my dear is purely for show. Because not everything that goes around comes back around you know. Holding on too long is just fear of letting go”. I grew up with iconic bands of the 80s which really shaped the alternative rock genre: The Sisters Of Mercy, Joy Division, Bauhaus, Skinny Puppy and the Queens brought me back to a time when I truly loved rock music (which, of late, has been rather lackluster and uninspiring in my opinion). I wanted to scream “Finally!” when I first listened to this, but I have neighbors and thin walls.
The music is not the only drool-worthy part of this release, however. Check out the nifty videos on the Queens’ website. The animation is reminiscent of Ralph Bakshi, James O’Barr and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. With glowing-eyed crows, clown masks, zombies and mummies (honestly, I’m not sure what they are -could be both) punctuating every chord of the songs, it is some cool shit.
To take a slightly edited John Lennon quote, if you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it Queens Of The Stone Age.