When details emerged some months back of ‘…Like Clockwork’ and its impending release, it was difficult not to be somewhat excited by the list of cameos which accompanied it. Dave Grohl back behind the kit, Nick Oliveri and Mark Lanegan popping up and the years seemingly go to superstar guest Elton John contributing was certainly enough to see both long time and casual fans salivating, yet of course with a rather hit and miss discography always leaving a question mark and six years of preoccupation with other musical endeavors just past, anticipating what form Josh Homme would be on was undeniably dubious.
Fortunately, this sixth offering marks a rather staggering return to the slick songwritng and thunderous groove which saw QOTSA‘s early releases so widely lauded. From the quriky stomp of ‘My God Is The Sun’ to ‘If I Had A Tail’‘s understated shuffle, there’s a succinct infectiousness to ‘…Like Clockwork’ which, although at first may seem plodding, reveals itself on repeated listens to be chock full of burrowing hooks and an intriguingly Americana atmosphere which is at best hypnotically engaging, seen starkly on the lurching menace of ‘Keep Your Eyes Peeled’, all stabbing bass swells and wandering melodies.
There are a glut of stand-out moments, not least the jubilant piano of an aforementioned Elton John in the soaring ‘Fairweather Friends’ and the hip shaking swagger of ‘Smooth Sailing’. Yet, the best is undoubtedly saved ’til last; the title track floating from heart wrenchingly fragile to noisily venting and back again, managing to be both achingly poignant and artfully magnetic at the drop of a hat.
As sophisticated and versatile as QOTSA have ever been, what sees ‘…Like Clockwork’ succeed so well is not only a focus on charmingly executed tracks, but an alarmingly introspection and a fetching candor which, when married to the whimsical creativity on display here, makes for a release as emotionally affecting as it is candidly danceable.
Written by Tony Bliss