Queens of the Stone Age's 'Like Clockwork' review: Never better

"Like Clockwork," by Queens of the Stone Age. "Like Clockwork," by Queens of the Stone Age. Photo Credit: AP

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REVIEW

Joshua Homme's Queens of the Stone Age has always been unpredictable -- its seemingly ever-changing lineup tends to bring an ever-changing mix of musical strengths and rock styles.

For the band's sixth studio album, " ... Like Clockwork" (Matador), Homme, who nearly died from complications after knee surgery in 2010, is understandably concerned with issues of life and death. He says he called in various friends to help him through a difficult recording process that started after he spent three months in bed recovering from his surgery.

However, the strain doesn't show at all. Homme's vocals have never sounded better, easily traveling from detached cool to fiery rocker and back again. Though the first single, "My God Is the Sun," sounds like classic QOTSA, driven by Dave Grohl's drumming and Troy Van Leeuwen's punishing guitarwork, " ... Like Clockwork" is packed with all sorts of surprises.

Homme seems to channel David Bowie on his restrained vocals for "Kalopsia," which alternates between orchestral prettiness and wild, cataclysmic guitars with the help of Trent Reznor. On "Fairweather Friends," Homme conjures up glam-rock bombast with the help of Grohl and Elton John. He mines an impressive groove on the verses of "If I Had a Tail," before going arena-metal on the choruses, which feature Arctic Monkeys' Alex Turner, Screaming Trees' Mark Lanegan and former QOTSA regular Nick Oliveri on backing vocals.

With classic albums like "Rated R" and "Songs for the Deaf" in your catalog, it's hard to regain the element of surprise and surpass expectations. Homme does it on " ... Like Clockwork."

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QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE

" ... Like Clockwork"

GRADE A-

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BOTTOM LINE Josh Homme builds another indie-rock supergroup

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