…Like Clockwork

Everybody has that band. You know, the one you used to love/now can’t stand/secretly hope will someday reclaim their once-righteous name? But at the end of the day, all you have is reality, and when it comes to Queens of the Stone Age, reality bites. Josh Homme and his rotating cast of QOTSA members have achieved just about every level of rock ’n’ roll triumph. But aside from a smattering of A-sides, the band has, well, how I should put this—sucked since Nick Oliveri got the boot in 2004. The Queens’ latest release, …Like Clockwork, happens to be their first in six years. Whereas the band’s previous effort, 2007’s Era Vulgaris, was flat-out bad, Clockwork is simply boring. The faux-sexy “Smooth Sailing” has Homme ready to “blow” his “load over the status quo,” while “I Appear Missing” finds Homme lilting his patented falsetto to new levels of indulgence. Even the more aggressive cuts like “My God Is the Sun” and “Fairweather Friends” are somehow tame. You can read the who’s-who list of collaborators all you want—Dave Grohl, Mark Lanegan, Trent Reznor, Brody Dalle, Elton John(?!)—this is simply a tired sound. If it weren’t for decent tracks like “I Sat by the Ocean” and “Kalopsia,” …Like Clockwork would be the lamest thing since “Disco Duck.” But hey, the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, so what the hell do I know?