…Like Clockwork is Queens of the Stone Age’s sixth studio album. It was released on June 4th, 2013 via Matador Records. The release marked QOTSA’s return from a rather lengthy hiatus. It’s predecessor was 2007’s spectacular Era Vulgaris. …Like Clockwork was released to critical and commercial acclaim, charting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
If Era Vulgaris is Marcia Brady, …Like Clockwork has got to feel a little bit like Jan. Shucks, she’s a real nice girl and everything, but Marcia’s such a foxy chick! Where Era wowed at every turn, Clockwork only shines here and there. If it’s any consolation, where it shines, it shines just as brightly.
The first of such highlights is the buzzed-out ballad, “The Vampyre of Time and Memory”. It’s a heartbreaking ride that sweeps the feet and waxes poetic even through humorous exclamations such as “I’m alive! Hooray!”. It’s a three and a half minute joy that really should go on twice as long.
Even though “My God is the Sun” serves as the social centerpiece on Clockwork, the following track, “Kalopsia”, is a far superior tune with its sleepy verses that trip into its roaring chorus with all the grace that you’ve come to expect from Josh Homme’s crew. Really, that’s where these boys bring their game, in the reel ’em in and knock ’em out moments. It’s too bad they’re so few and far between on this disc.
Where Clockwork falls short is with promises like a collaboration with a least-likely candidate such as Elton John on “Fairweather Friends”. It’s fun, but Elton’s presence is NOT felt the way anybody was expecting, and it just leaves you unimpressed and let down. Also, I don’t feel the swagger that should be present here. Songs like “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” and the all-too-bluesy, “Smooth Sailing” just don’t deliver for me. There’s more impressions of former glory than the punchy triumphs I was left expecting.
I do give the album artwork (designed by the British artist Boneface) high honors. The stark contrast of the black and white on a bright red background really draws the eye, and the fella wearing the skull mask is friggin’ cool. So there’s that.
Really, in the end, there was just too much potential that wasn’t lived up to. Especially given the six year hiatus and exciting return of Dave Grohl on drums, and Nick Oliveri on bass. To call it a disappointment would be overzealous, but …Like Clockwork does leave a bit too much to be desired. Poor Jan, forever the second fiddle. Of course, in my analogy Songs for the Deaf would be second fiddle, so Clockwork is more like the little one, what was her name? Sally, or Susie, or something? Clockwork is Little Girl Brady.