Like Clockwork is a welcome reminder that no one does stoner rock quite like Queens of the Stone Age can. Perhaps not their strongest effort to date, but the fragility and well-layered complexities make for a compelling return.

While this record brings in yet another line up change for the Josh Homme lead outfit, it seems the crew assembled for Like Clockwork has paid off for the desert rock ambassadors.

Guest collaborators including Sir Elton John, Trent Reznor (who they’d hoped would produce the record) and Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys bring fresh perspective here, but long time collaborators such as Mark Lanegan and Dave Grohl appear, well, like clockwork.

True to form, the record is awash with the sludgy, viscous basslines that throb and ooze their way into your system in only the way a Queens of the Stone Age song can. Six records down the line, Queens have moved from the full throttle, testosterone fuelled vibes that powered the masterpiece ‘Songs For The Deaf’, and past the radio readiness that was ‘Era Vulgaris’ into a new stone age altogether for their sixth studio record. This record is far more reflective and raw; Homme lays it all out with weary honesty.

His vocals are at their smouldering, mournful best on ‘If I Had A Tail’, while lead single ‘My God Is The Sun’ is frenetic, pushing along with full voltage energy, killer riffage and ploughing bass lines; but there is an unfortunate, underlying sense of going through the motions here, almost as though someone had reminded them they needed a loud and proud banger in amongst the grandiose melancholia. Elsewhere, ‘I Appear Missing’ is a rolling, six-minute long rock opus featuring one of the most delicious guitar licks on the record.

*** 1/2 out of five stars


Like Clockwork is out now on Matador.

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