I’ve been a pretty big fan of Queens of the Stone Age since I was a teenager. I found out about them, like most people, I suppose, upon the release of their third album Songs for the Deaf. My introduction to the album came by way of their biggest hit off the record, No One Knows. Again, like most people, I suppose(Don’t worry about it. “I suppose” all the time.). I remember digging the song on a purely superficial level at first, but something about it just spoke to me. Honestly, at the time I wasn’t looking for anything more from the music I listened to than immediate satisfaction. Having said that, this was where the tide began to turn( Well, this, White Blood Cells, and Surfer Rosa.) Upon purchasing the disc, I was pleasantly surprised by the depth contained within. It was a “pop rock” classic, and cemented the band in my mind forever.
I’ve idealized this group, or, more acutely, Josh Homme. They are pretty high on my list of “People I Never Want to Meet.” This may seem strange to some, but I don’t want the pesky notion of reality to creep it’s way into my fantasy ideal of who I want them to be. They just ooze “cool” to me. They’re a band that is always distinctly themselves while constantly growing, and engaging song writing in unconventional ways. They have a foot solidly planted in the realm of “pop” esque music, but how they deconstruct the structure of this “genre” has always been at the very least interesting, if not exciting. A real, honest to god, old fashioned, “Rock N’ Roll” band, and god dammit do we need more of those while swilling ever downwards in our current “trendy” musical ghetto( I’m not saying there is nothing of merit being produced out there. I’m referring to the more “mainstream/popular” types. You know, the ones that get all the coverage, and then as a consequence, all the attention. Bleck! Bleck, I say!). Anyways, with every subsequent record, I’ve felt engaged, and sometimes even challenged by this group. Hyperbolic? Sure, but I’ll take it.
I don’t ever really get excited by a lot of media these days, but there was something about the marketing of …Like Clockwork that just worked for me. They released a series of beautifully animated shorts that were accompanied by song snippets from the album, and they promised something really ambitious. There’s been an upward trajectory of “ambition” over the past few records for the group. This and the album before it, Era Vulgaris, seem to have a cohesive nature to them. Almost like a clear narrative, if you will. The combination of the music and marketing materials seem to prove this point(Well, in my opinion, but that’s the only one that really matters in the context of this blog. So there!). They are what I would call “theme albums,” I guess(Or suppose! Hazzah!). They have something of actual substance to say, and who says you can’t have a little fun while making your point(Jerk faces. That’s who.), and the first single released, My God is the Sun, promised they were still going to do their thing. Fun, energetic, catchy, and even interesting. Things that are too often mutually exclusive, but never fear Queens of the Stone Age is here.
…Like Clockwork just works. Even if you had no desire to really engage the material. The songs work totally as a superficial experience. The music is just plain old fashioned enjoyable, in my opinion, and even some of the more “dour” out put( Like, I Appear Missing.) is immediately entertaining. From the out set, the tone for what to come is set by Keep Your Eyes Peeled, a really menacing tune, and even that still manages to be catchy as hell. The songs seem to go back and forth between “real life” style lyrics, and then are juxtaposed by songs that feel symbolic, and esoteric in content. They compliment and inform each other as you go through the album in ways that are hard to describe. I mean, I could probably take a single song from this album and write an entire article about the themes and symbolism contained within. It’s a record about being mindful of “reality,” taking life by the balls, and not losing yourself in the process. Like always, this is just my opinion, but I think the material supports my theory.
I’m not going to break down the album song by song. I just don’t see the benefit of doing that. Just give it a listen. For the initiated this album is going to give you what you want, and for everyone else? Get initiated! Like, now! Seriously, take a chance on this one. It’s interesting enough to warrant a purchase from even the most casual music listener. There’s kind of something for everyone. It’s some of the smartest and economical song writing I’ve heard in awhile. Everything in this album feels filled with purpose. They’re is a nary a song or piece of music that feels like “filler,” and it does all this while still being totally palpable and enjoyable. It’s not an album that reads “Only Musicians Need Apply” to enjoy it’s contents. It’s for everyone, and if this is what “mainstream” Queens of the Stone Age sounds like then I’ll have seconds and thirds.
I’ve probably listened to …Like Clockwork about a dozen times so far, and I can’t wait to listen to it a dozen more times. The album finds Queens of the Stone Age in the midst of a creative high, and in full control of their song writing faculties. I think they’ve produced an undeniable modern classic rock album, and, in my opinion, is their definitive work thus far. It was a long wait between this one and Era Vulgaris, but given the results, I’ll gladly wait another six years if this is what I get.
To close this clap trap, I’ll leave you with this. All of the shorts cut together into a fifteen minute short. This also works as a good way to see if you’d dig it. As it gives a decent cross section of the songs, and is a good representation of what you can expect from the album as a whole.