Day Ninety-Six: Summer’s for Music – …Like Clockwork

by Tom Noonan

In an attempt to catch up on all the great music being turned out in 2013, I will be attempting to cover an album a day for the rest of the summer.  Enjoy.

Album: …Like Clockwork

Artist: Queens of the Stone Age

The biggest story about this album is that it’s not exactly a Queens of the Stone Age album because it’s not exactly the same line-up that was around for the band’s best string of albums (Rated R, Songs for the Deaf, and Lullabies to Paralyze).  This story, like most stories trying to ruin the fun, is mostly bullshit because the line-up, even for those three, often brilliant, records, was never exactly the same and usually included major contributions from influential non-members and rock scholars like Dave Grohl and Mark Lanegan. So to say that …Like Clockwork is not an official Queens of the Stone Age reunion album is to wrongfully assume that there was ever more to Queens of the Stone Age than the perfectionist machinations of frontman Josh Homme being made possible by getting second, third, fourth opinions.

In short, all a Queens of the Stone Age record needs to have to be a Queens of the Stone Age record is Josh Homme carrying the heaviest load, and we certainly get that on …Like Clockwork, but what makes the album worth spending time with are the constantly visible hands of Homme’s creative consultants.  There’s enough heavy, guitar-pounding injections to keep even the most cult-y fans happy, and Homme never drifts too far into the dreary wanderings of Lullabies*, but Clockwork‘s most consistently energizing songs are the ones where Homme does the least work.  The most memorable of these is “Fairweather Friends”, a song somehow successfully constructed through the collective effort of Homme, Lanegan, Grohl, Trent Reznor, and Elton John.  The result is that particular kind of glorious and imperfect neo-metal madness only Queens of the Stone Age can create by letting their friends pull a simple concept out in all directions.  …Like Clockwork is far from the best Queens of the Stone Age has to offer, but when everything gets going, it’s hard to argue with the results.

*Though “Vampyre of Time and Memory” is an oddly placed and nearly de-railing song that gets everything a little too far off track.