QOTSA rocks like clockwork

Alex LaSalle

Think of Queen of the Stone Age’s new album, “…Like Clockwork,” as a cuckoo clock, except instead of a little wooden bird, it ejects a thick, heavy dinosaur of a rock album.

For the group’s first album in six years, Queens of the Stone Age has produced something that most rock bands can only dream about. It’s at all times a balance of heavy and sexy. Play it loud or don’t play it all. Rock- n-roll lives. Rejoice!

Now, if that previous paragraph sounded cheesier than a plate of nachos, that’s because “…Like Clockwork” is so shamelessly heavy it’s hard not to get caught up in the feeling.

Singer and guitarist Josh Homme fills the entire album front-to-back with loud, fuzzy guitar riffs, seductive falsettos and insidious guitar solos – a rarity these days outside of metal bands. It’s all done with confidence.

QOTSA has other musicians involved. Guests include Dave Grohl on drums and help from Arctic Monkey’s Alex Turner, Trent Reznor, Mark Lanegan and Elton John. Yes, Elton John. But for all of those big names, the show is run by singer, guitarist, songwriter and producer Homme. You would never know the rest of them are there.

There are three tracks that are, at worst, disposable – The druggy-sounding intro “Keep Your Eyes Peeled,” the out-of-place piano ballad “The Vampyre of Time and Memory” and the closing titular track. Even these have good spots in them, honestly.

“Fairweather Friends” is, if you haven’t guessed by now, shamelessly loud. Elton John sings backup and plays piano here, but it almost gets drowned out entirely. “Smooth Sailing” more or less encapsulates the album into one song with a heavy funk riff on top of cocksure singing from Homme.

The best part is that “…Like Clockwork” stays so heavy without going full metal and without veering into overdramatic, formulaic Nickelback – yuck – territory. It’s loud and heavy, and it’s a great rock album.