OKAY, SO HERE the thing: if you’ve got to listen to more or less mainstream rock music to get your daily hit, then it might as well be something like Queens Of The Stone Age.
Mainstream rock exhausted its creative potential long ago, for the most part. But there are always a few lingering enigmas like Josh Homme who believe in the form and happen to be both talented and eccentric enough to make it seem like it’s got legs all over again.
He did it on Era Vulgaris (2008) and on the Them Crooked Vultures collaboration, and now he’s done it again with …Like Clockwork.
This time it’s very much his vehicle, and with the departure of drummer Joey Castillo during its making, the group is looking very much like Homme and a bunch of hired guns. Those guns – or should I say special guests – this time include appearances by both Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) and Elton John (!), but it’s to Homme’s credit that neither ‘legend’ unbalances the project.
Homme knows just what to do to make a song sound right. On ‘Keep Your Eyes Peeled’, for instance, he croons like Cream’s Jack Bruce to a great swaggering beat and a mean groove and a dirty sax, and allows for some quite unexpected sonic interventions, all without losing his way with the song. He loves impactful, dramatic accentuations like those on ‘I Sat By The Ocean’, which throws in a classic pop/rock vocal melody, just for fun.
So he has fun with a rich vocabulary of sounds (check the crappy old synth on ‘The Vampire Of Time And Memory’) and he’s a riff master (try ‘My God Is The Sun’ or ‘If I Had A Tail’). And Homme has a way with words, too. That last-named track, for instance, features the line: “Tears of pleasure/Tears of pain/They trickle down your face the same.” Okay, it’s not poetry, but those are the kind of lines that go well with cool big riffs, and like I said, he’s got ‘em.
Clearly a man out of time, Homme often sounds like he’d like to be fronting some 1960s psych jammers, and on that Elton John track, ‘Fairweather Friends’, it seems like what he really wants to do is raise the ghost of Queen with fruity melodic guitar lines. But we’ll forgive him his transgression.
…Like Clockwork is a pretty good mainstream rock record, and for a mainstream rock record, it’s rather idiosyncratic, and that has to be a good thing. GARY STEEL
Music = 3.5/5
Sound = 3.5/5