Three words, baby—sexy, dark, subliminal. It reeks of an ominous period; it is rushed but polished, perfect but never boring. Queens of the Stone Age’s sixth studio album, Like Clockwork, will disappoint if you expect it to coddle the die-hard QOTSA fan in you. You get a taste of the signature QOTSA intensity with the succinct “My God is the Sun” or the Era Vulgaris tonalities in “Smooth Sailing.” But you’ll have to take this as the better pill: the Black Flag sludge that became part of the old QOTSA sound is a goner. The pop smashes in “I Sat by the Ocean” work on your sensibilities like maple syrup, as “Kalopsia” explodes with hues of dejection but clears out with disheveled whatevers.
Like Clockwork is a plod to a sin city destined for salvation, with a warning saying, “I refuse to go through and be fazed by that pigeonhole (or the lack thereof).” You can’t help wishing it to be a lot louder, most probably, but Like Clockwork is a masterpiece in its own right—not just because QOTSA can do whatever they want, but because, hot damn, this album proves QOTSA’s unpredictable, godlike genius.