It is fair to say you do not get the predictable with Josh Homme and Queens Of The Stone Age, even in their less successful moments there is plenty to chew upon and ultimately find great pleasure within. The same can be said about …Like Clockwork the sixth album from the band. From start to finish it intrigues and magnetically draws in the senses and emotions, yet just as easily it escapes those self-same passions and leaves you feeling flat and pining for the early days when the band led the field in guitar sculpted anthemic psyched out rock ‘n’ roll.
Bringing in a torrent of guests to help out across the album, including the rhythmic skills of Dave Grohl on five of the tracks, former members Nick Oliveri and Mark Lanegan, Trent Reznor, Scissor Sisters‘ Jake Shears, Arctic Monkeys‘ Alex Turner, and Elton John, Homme has crafted ten songs which as expected pulsate with his lyrical potency and venom. There is little to attack the release over in the quality of the songs and their potent presentations either but at the end of the day it still manages to avoid igniting any real passion and hunger for its presence, something which was never a problem for the band in the past, certainly before previous album Era Vulgaris of 2007.
‘Keep Your Eyes Peeled’ opens up the album emerging from a menacing ambience to deliver a deliciously resonating throat bass and guitar lure soon awash with the familiar melodic breath of the band and the always appealing tones of Homme. With a pungent sonic voice to the strings and shimmering elegance to its body the track twists and turns with scythes of sonic fire across the perpetual resonance to ensnare senses and thoughts. It is a potent start and the instigator of strong hopes and expectations for the album.
The following ‘I Sat By the Ocean’ is a commendable back up to the starter, a rich and lush blaze of melodic intrigue and mastery with a seventies essence which after many listens struck as sounding Be Bop Deluxe like. Not a song that lingers it certainly sparks strong satisfaction which is not quite the same for ‘The Vampyre Of Time And Memory’. A shadow draped ballad which plays elegantly on the ear with the keys and vocals gently persuading it also seems to have stepped back over the decades to find some seeds for its recipe as there is an Eagles whisper to the track which is a draw but fails to ignite the power of the song.
Through the likes of the dramatic ‘If I Had A Tail’, a song which from a more than decent start evolves into a quite compelling if flawed dance, the excellent ‘My God Is The Sun’, and the Bowiesque ‘Kalopsia’ the album ebbs and flows within the emotions. The second of the trio is a vibrant and feisty slice of rock ‘n’ roll, guitars and rhythms revealing sinews that cage and seduce the senses, whilst its successor brings a mellow opening smoulder to the ear before unleashing a wealth of sonic and melodic flames musically and vocally with the help of Trent Reznor which is impossible not to compare to the Ziggy Stardust era. As magnetic as it is the song excites and deflates the emotions simultaneously to lose any real hold but again it is beautifully unveiled making it very easy to return to.
With Elton John on board ‘Fairweather Friends’ does its best to leave a lasting embrace but it fails despite its again shapely invention and ‘I Appear Missing’ also lacks anything to entrench in the emotions though splitting them the raw heat and swagger of ‘Smooth Sailing’ revitalises the appetite, the song holding a Eagles Of Death Metal like wantonness.
Completed by the title track, a decent enough emotive ballad bringing a good piano and vocal union into stronger incandescence towards its climax; …Like Clockwork is a bit of a puzzle in sound and bewilderment. Playing like a patchwork of unconnected ideas it definitely provides songs that are impressive and enjoyable but just does not light a fire inside…another release for die-hard fans.