It’s clear while listening to …Like Clockwork that singer and guitarist Josh Homme is not the same person he was when Era Vulgaris was released six years ago.
Homme experienced severe complications during surgery in 2010 and was bedridden for three months. He slipped into a deep depression and questioned whether or not he would ever be all right again.
The gravity of facing his human frailty has seeped into the creation of this album. The final product is something moodier and more thoughtful than any album they’ve released before.
The opening track begins with the ominous sound of glass breaking, which leads into Homme’s crooning over a slow, heavy rhythm. “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” is the usual desert-rock style Queens of the Stone Age are known for, but it’s an uncharacteristically serious opener for them. It signals that you’re in for more of Queens of the Stone Age’s darker side with …Like Clockwork.
Homme asks, “Slowly, can one so lost be found?” and tells you, “Lonely, you don’t know how I feel.” Being lost and being unable to connect are both themes continued throughout the album. Although this introspective album does explore unfamiliar territory, the band finds its footing after so many years between releases. Through pensive songs like “The Vampyre of Time and Memory” and the equally unexpected “…Like Clockwork,” the listener begins to understand how much Homme struggled to find himself again.
The album offers less solemn moments and their first single “My God Is The Sun” is the aggressive, fast-paced rock fans love them for. But in my opinion, it’s also one of the weakest tracks on the album because of its predictability.
The track “Smooth Sailing” is cocky and erotic — the kind of song you can expect to hear at pubs and parties this summer. “Kalopsia” has a far-off dreamy quality unlike anything I’ve heard from Queens of the Stone Age before. It shows even more variation in their repertoire and a willingness to experiment.
One of my favourite tracks is “I Appear Missing.” It really engages with Homme’s experience in the hospital and being incapacitated. This song more than any other makes the listener feel like they are navigating through the “fog” he experienced after his near-death experience. Through both music and revealing lyrics — such as “pinned like a note in a hospital gown” — Homme communicates honestly and vulnerably with whoever is listening.
This album feels more cohesive and polished than any album they’ve released before. …Like Clockwork is satisfying for avid Queens of the Stone Age fans who may have been waiting since high school for something new and appeals to new listeners who are getting introduced to desert rock for the first time. It’s not as charged and intense as their best album, Songs for the Deaf, but it shows the kind of growth I hope for in a band that’s been together since the ‘90s.
Queens of the Stone Age will be performing in Calgary at the Stampede Corral on Aug. 8.