Queens of the Stone Age: …Like Clockwork

queens

TWO words kept cropping up when I read back over my review notes for the new Queens of the Stone Age record, the first since 2007’s Era Vulgaris and a whole 13 years after 2000’s breakthrough Rated R: “Pink” and “Floyd”.
The Vampyre of Time and Memory is the first and most notable Floydalike, a beautifully haunting ballad (think Dark Side of the Moon’s Breathe as a reference point) which takes the album off in a completely new direction for the third time in as many tracks.
Opener Keep Your Eyes Peeled is more a statement of intent than anything else – we’re here, now pay attention – a huge crunching rock volcano which threatens to erupt but never actually does.
The following I Sat By the Ocean is all thrillingly exciting guitars and big crunching riffs, a template the band return to on If I Had A Tail, which brings to mind nothing so much as Man Who Sold The World-era Bowie.
As the opening songs suggest, the album is an enjoyably varied affair; single My God Is The Sun is pleasingly Foo Fighters-esque (no surprise, really, with Dave Grohl on drums), there’s more Floydisms on Kolapsia and the majestic closing title track, while there’s a real lightness of touch on display on Fairweather Friends and Smooth Sailing.
Variety notwithstanding, it’s still very much a Queens record, though, and songwriter-in-chief Josh Homme’s talent for a tune is present throughout; even on the most lumbering of rock epics (I’m thinking Keep Your Eyes Peeled and I Appear Missing) you’re never far from a song-saving melody.
Whether it will return them to rock’s top table remains to be seen but if these songs don’t close at least one festival this summer then I’m a Stone Age monkey’s uncle.

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