Queens of the Stoneage: …Like Clockwork
Queens of the Stoneage
Alternative & IndieRock
In late 2011, Queens of the Stone Age front-man, Josh Homme, went in for a routine knee surgery and, because of some freak medical complications, nearly didn’t make it out alive. He was hospitalised for thirteen days, then bed-ridden for four months. Unusually involved in a number of musical projects at a time, the busy musician reportedly fell into depression, even going as far as to announce that didn’t even feel like making music anymore.
His band mates, however, pressed him to start a new record; 2007’s Era Vulgaris was eagerly awaiting a follow-up. Homme describes the making of …Like Clockwork as “spelunking – which is supposed to be fun, but really it’s just a dark deep cave.”
Fortunately, Homme’s philosophical musings have little bearing on the album’s sound. Granted, for a Queens of the Stone Age record, it’s not particularly uplifting, but the melancholy dripping out of your speakers is kept to a minimum.
Homme and co weren’t alone in their metaphorical spelunking conquests, with …Like Clockwork boasting a number of guest appearances. Among others, it features vocal performances by Arctic Monkey’s Alex Turner (‘If I Had a Tail’), the baritone vocals of one-time grunge legend Mark Lanegan (‘If I Had a Tale’, ‘Fairweather Friends’) some singing and minor drumming by Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor (‘Kalopsia’, ‘Fairweather Friends’), arrangement and production by U.N.K.L.E.‘s James Lavelle (‘…Like Clockwork’) and piano and vocals from none other than Elton John (‘Fairweather Friends’).
But despite the outside contributions, …Like Clockwork is still very much a Queens of the Stone Age album. It’s always commendable when, on hearing the first few bars of a song, you recognise what band it is; this is definitely the case with Queens of the Stone Age. …Like Clockwork is noticeably less macho than its predecessor Era Vulgaris, and is certainly a little less in your face, but without losing its sting.
It also seems the sound of QOTSA and Homme’s other band, Them Crooked Vultures, are somewhat converging. With its Zeppelin-esque guitar sounds, ‘If I Had a Tail’ could have been a Them Crooked Vultures song and with Dave Grohl kicking the beat on half the album’s tracks – long-time drummer, Joey Castillo, has been given the boot – the lines between the two bands definitely appear to be blurring, considering the Homme-Grohl tandem is two-thirds of Them Crooked Vultures. This is not a bad thing at all, seeing as both bands produce excellent music.
“One thing is clear, it’s all downhill from here,” Homme sings on the eponymous final track of the album – a prophecy for QOTSA’s future? Let’s hope not.