QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE
… Like Clockwork
4.5/5 (Remote Control/Matador)
Josh Homme never makes obvious creative decisions. The towering leader of Queens of the Stone Age writes music that has the twists and turns of an erotic thriller, drenched in theatrics and melodrama, and threaded with unexpected moments. He relishes a poetic suckerpunch. You can never truly predict what will be around the corner. The deep, sultry tone of his voice remains a potent and seductive instrument, and lulls the listener into the dark dreamworlds of his songwriting.
On QOTSA’s sixth studio record, … Like Clockwork, Homme crafts another arresting, dimly-lit journey through fuzzy grooves, primal energy and the hot atmosphere of the sun setting over an arid landscape. Such is the genre-bending nature of the band’s music that the term “desert rock” was created just to describe it. There’s blues, stoner, glam, psychedelia, progressive and rock ‘n’ roll. It’s all absorbed by Homme’s psyche and reimagined in a cohesive soundscape. He continues to play with off-kilter time signatures, keeping a sense of unease in the listener.
Homme flirted with death in 2010 when his heart stopped during knee surgery. That experience informed … Like Clockwork, and the guitarist and singer ruminates on mortality on his band’s new album.
‘If I Had A Tail’ sees Homme express a desire to connect with his inner animal (“If I had a tail I’d swat the flies”), threatening to transform by moonlight and wreak havoc on the superficial members of our society. It’s this visceral, non-linear, impressionistic imagery that Homme does so well.
In single ‘My God Is The Sun’, Queens of the Stone Age delivers another thunderous heavy rock song. All of Homme’s music is permeated by heat – and not just from his smouldering voice. The influence of his Palm Desert upbringing gives his songs a distinct temperature. He is, indeed, a desert warrior: “Healing, like fire from above, kneeling, my god is the sun“.
‘Smooth Sailing’ is a sweaty, groove-laden, funked-up slab of acid rock. It highlights QOTSA’s trademark quality – music you can fuck to.
As has been the case on previous QOTSA records, and his Desert Sessions and Them Crooked Vultures projects, Homme is the nucleus of an impressive roster of musical talent. Guest appearances on …Like Clockwork include Elton John, Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears, Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner, Homme’s wife and Aussie ex-pat Brody Dalle and Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor. His list of drummers and percussionists includes three of the best – Dave Grohl, Joey Castillo and Jon Theodore. Previous QOTSA members Mark Lanegan and Nick Oliveri are welcomed back into the fold.
The contributions of the guest vocalists are subtle – mostly just echoed vocal textures that haunt the production from its shadowed corners. They are all part of the Homme’s tapestry of dark and light, sun and moon, birth and death, and homage and innovation. It’s a world of danger and revelation.