Sound — 9
"...Like Clockwork" has a unique sound never seen before in QOTSA's music. It blends the older style of the Queens that they formed on records like "Rated R" and the newer sound that appears on "Era Vulgaris" and "Lullabies to Paralyze." This may be the Queens' most diverse album yet. I'll break each song down, as each song really is unique from the others. 1. "Keep Your Eyes Peeled" - This song has to be the most creeping, menacing song on the record, and its the opening track. It begins with a ridiculous distorted bass and incorporates several haunting guitar leads. During the chorus, however, loud, high pitched wah-ed guitars join in to give it a faster feeling. And then, about 2:30 in, the entire mood lightens for a while, only to proceed to another dark chorus. If any song on this album will give you nightmares, it would be this one. 2. "I Sat By The Ocean" - This song is the polar opposite of "Keep Your Eyes Peeled." The upbeat rhythm guitar blasts the opening of this track with catchy leads and a perfectly fitting beat, as supplied by the great Dave Grohl. The entire song is so catchy that it brands itself into your mind. It also brings back some of the feelings of the classic, "Rated R." While not my favorite song on the album, it certainly delivers. 3. "The Vampyre of Time and Memory" - Track 3 brings back the feelings of haunting from "Keep Your Eyes Peeled," but in a very different manner. It begins with a long drone on a distorted synthesizer, but proceeds as a soft ballad played on piano. A strange synth is brought on later, which may or may not fit well with the song depending on your interpretation, and is followed by a short but sweet guitar solo. The chorus picks up a bit, but overall, the song is rather melancholy. I am a bit disappointed, personally, with this track, but the frequent guitar leads help bring it up a bit. 4. "If I Had A Tail" - This track is Queens' way of bringing back Lullabies to Paralyze. The low synths and guitars coupled with a catchy vocal melody push this song higher than expected. The chorus is the defining point in this track, as it really helps bring the track to life. Overall, an impressive song. 5. "My God Is The Sun" - The upbeat 3/4 rhythm makes this track stand out from the others, along with incorporation of outside instruments, like shakers and tambourines. The drumming supplied by Dave Grohl may be the biggest addition to this song, as each hit simply fits the song. 6. "Kalopsia" - This track is interesting. The main melody is a piano and synthesizer playing a major arpeggio, but when the vocals change in the second verse, they are in minor, giving the song a strange, but cool, feeling. The loud chorus also makes this song stand out, especially in the middle of such a soft song as this. Once the outro hits though, the original verse is forgotten. This is one of the few songs that has a completely new sound for Queens, along with "My God Is The Sun." 7. "Fairweather Friends" - Some may recognize "Fairweather Friends" from the snippets the band released before anything was known about the album. The chorus has a choir in the background that is very recognizable. The raging guitar solo in the first verse shows early on what kind of song this will be. The song is mostly guitar and piano driven, but still packs a punch. Definitely one of my favorite tracks from the album. 8. "Smooth Sailing" - I'm not exactly sure what to make of this track. It sounds more like a song off of a Them Crooked Vultures album. It has odd riffs, exemplified bass and lead guitars with little to no rhythm guitar, and falsetto, strongly EQ-ed vocals. I can say I enjoy it, but it is very different from all the other songs on the album. 9. "I Appear Missing" - Here it is. The track that everyone wanted to hear more from. I can assure you, the second half of "I Appear Missing" is even better than the first. This song features complex guitar melodies and heavily catchy lyrics. It is easily one of my favorite Queens of the Stone Age tracks of all time. They did not disappoint, nor were they lying when they said that this album was "a new experience." 10. "...Like Clockwork" - This track is the most unique on the album. It begins as a soft, melodic ballad, but quickly transforms into a full fledged power ballad, with choir-like vocals and melodic synthesizers. It is mostly instrumental, however there are points were Homme adds vocals, mostly falsetto. Once the synths die down, the song remains fairly soft for the rest of the time. It is a nice way to end such a glorious album.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics to most of the songs on this album are very catchy. I find some of the most meaningful lyrics, however, to be in "I Appear Missing." The opening lines go: "Calling all comas, Prisoner on the loose. Description: A spitting image of me Except for the heart-shaped hole where the hope runs out." Those lyrics, to me at least, were what hit home for the entire song. Most of the songs on the album, but this one especially, have lyrics that make you think "Why didn't I write that?" Some of the little additions to the songs on this album are significant as well, such as in "Kalopsia" when you hear "Is it beautiful?" after the first chorus dies out. There are several of these things and each has deep meaning within the song. My only criticism of the lyrics are in "If I Had A Tail." Some of the lyrics, such as: "Get your hands dirty Roll up them sleeves Brainwashed or true believers Buy flash cars Diamond rings Expensive holes to bury things." Don't make such sense. The lyrics have a similar sense to those of "Battery Acid" from "Era Vulgaris."
Overall Impression — 9
This could very well be one of Queens' best efforts so far. They have managed to integrate so many new aspects to their sound, in some songs, and in others tried to grasp their roots. It easily topples the last release, "Era Vulgaris," and may be able to do the same to earlier albums as well. My favorite tracks on the album must have been "Smooth Sailing," "I Appear Missing," and "Keep Your Eyes Peeled." These tracks were both fresh material while still having a connection to QOTSA's past. My least favorites were "If I Had A Tail," "My God Is The Sun," and "...Like Clockwork." "If I Had A Tail" mostly because of the mostly senseless lyrics, "...Like Clockwork" because it was mostly a soft, and rather boring ballad, and "My God Is The Sun," not because something was wrong with it, but because it simply was not as good as all of the other songs. Overall, one of my favorite QOTSA albums thus far and I hope for more in the future.