Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, second from right, suffered from depression after a near-death experience in 2010. (Nora Lezano)
Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, second from right, suffered from depression after a near-death experience in 2010. (Nora Lezano)

A regal return from Queens of the Stone Age Add to ...

  • Title …Like Clockwork
  • Artist Queens of the Stone Age
  • Label Matador/Beggars
  • Rating 3.5/4

Joshua Homme and Queens of the Stone Age are back from the brink. No, really.

The new album, …Like Clockwork , is the rawk crew’s first album in six years – a follow-up to 2007’s coolly received Era Vulgaris. Homme, he has said, suffered a near-death experience while undergoing a knee operation in 2010. Depression followed. “I didn’t know if I was gonna come out,” he told an interviewer. “I had a pretty rough three years, but I don’t wanna harp on about it because everything for me is just a smaller set of wounds in a grander set of wounds.”

More Related to this Story

…Like Clockwork isn’t an upbeat offering. The recording sessions were complicated by the turfing of drummer Joey Castillo, who, after a decade of service, was dismissed for unpublicized reasons.

The opening track Keep Your Eyes Peeled trudges brutishly, with Homme crooning high, soulfully and with a troubled mind. “If life is but a dream,” he sings, not merrily, “wake me up.” The tune is off-kilter, and, like most of the material on this worried and elegantly bad-ass album, marked by dark existentialism and tricky rhythmic turns.

I Sat By the Ocean might remind Cars’ fans of the bouncy Let the Good Times Roll, though Homme might not agree with that song’s cavalier sentiment. “Time wounds all the heals,” he sings, “then we fade out of view.”

In 2010, with Dave Grohl and Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, Homme formed the prog-rock supergroup Them Crooked Vultures. One of their fans was Elton John, who here adds essential piano to Fairweather Friends, a ripping, wide-bodied rocker with a recognizable drummer (Grohl). “Is there anyone out there, or am I walking alone,” Homme asks. “I turned around and found that you’d gone before the first rain could fall.”

Homme does have friends. In addition to Grohl and John, other helpers include Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys and previous collaborators Mark Lanegan and Nick Oliveri.

Lyrically, Homme is refreshed and no-nonsense. On the Bowie-bluesy and key-changing stomp of Smooth Sailing, there is disdain of religion (“headaches at the temple of the closed mind”), along with a second-chance sense of freedom and fearlessness gained from flatline familiarity. “It’s smooth sailing from here on out,” the chorus goes, “I’m gonna do damage till the damage is done.”

Homme and crew, whose previous undainty albums are Songs for the Deaf and Lullabies to Paralyze, here do damage with a touch of grace.

MORE NEW RELEASES

DANCE-ROCK

  • Howlin'
  • Jagwar Ma
  • Marathon Artists

Being young, presentable and Australian, this groove-savvy Stone-Rosey duo could probably win over a club full of Canadian college gals on accent alone. And they won’t hurt their chances with the hyper-romanticism of something like Come Save Me, a sweet-summer dance celebration and homage to the Spencer Davis Group. Give them some loving – you know you want to. – Brad Wheeler

POP

  • the minutes
  • Alison Moyet
  • Cooking Vinyl

What Alison Moyet does on her eighth solo album isn’t all that different from what she did 30 years ago with Yaz. It’s a duo effort, with producer Guy Sigsworth providing the electronics while Moyet’s dusky, soul-inflected voice delivers melody and narrative. But a retread this isn’t. Sigsworth’s backing tracks are so lush with detail you’ll sometimes wonder if he hasn’t snuck an orchestra into the studio, while Moyet’s singing has depth and authority that should place her in the same league as Adele. Add in songs that reflect life experience more than pop calculation, and the minutes becomes an album worth spending weeks with. – J.D. Considine

ROCK

  • 13
  • Black Sabbath
  • Vertigo/Universal

“Out of gloom I rise up from my tomb into impending doom.” The masters of unreality are back with their long-feared 19th album, naturally titled 13. The original lineup is three-fourths intact, with Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk subbing for contractual casualty Bill Ward. Producer Rick Rubin rewinds things to 1972, casting Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi and Ozzy in their familiar roles – all heavy-metal thunder, hell-bent blues and lyrical murk. “The battle’s over,” Osbourne bellows on the semi-progressive and almost-epic Age of Reason, “but the war goes on.” But if there is still fight left in Sabbath, the struggle is now manufactured. These guys who used to fight desperate and dirty now play roles and observe the rules. – B.W.

Electronica

  • Cold Spring Fault Less Youth
  • Mount Kimbie
  • Warp

Mount Kimbie’s first album, Crooks & Lovers, wowed critics by repurposing the vocabulary of electronica, using loops and samples to generate a dreamy, clockwork universe. With Cold Spring Fault Less Youth, the English duo deliver something just as startling. Although their tools remain the same, the sound is warmer and more organic, less a reaction against the aggression of dubstep than an attempt to make computer music feel like a living, breathing band. Keyboard chords waft by like aural haze, the percussion thumps and thrums like a minimalist Ginger Baker, while the periodic bursts of melody are as brilliant as fireworks. Wonderfully addictive. – J.D.C.

Follow on Twitter: @BWheelerglobe

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories