The dark, cohesive psychedelia of "… Like Clockwork" is unmatched by any of QOTSA’s five previous recordings.

Queens of the Stone Age
... Like Clockwork
Matador Records

Josh Homme and company are back from the dead. During the band’s six-year hiatus, Homme clinically died on an operating table during knee surgery. Rising from the ashes of personal turmoil and creative stagnation, the dark, cohesive psychedelia of … Like Clockwork is unmatched by any of QOTSA’s five previous recordings.

This is a grower, not a shower. It’s more akin to the Songs for the Deaf’s “The Mosquito Song” than Queens of the Stone Age’s desert-rock “Avon” and Rated R’s burner, “The Feel Good Hit of the Summer.” The brooding complexity of “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” and “Kalopsia” demonstrates Homme’s musical maturation. On … Like Clockwork, QOTSA broadened its orchestration with maracas, synthesizers, piano, slide guitar, octave pedals, and even shattered glass. Homme’s restrained, cabaret-inspired guitar propels “If I Had a Tail” and “Smooth Sailing,” while “Fairweather Friends” and “The Vampyre of Time and Memory” have a late-’60s Beatles feel. While the album is largely subdued, “My God is the Sun” lands a familiar punch of scraping fuzz.

Homme initially worried if anyone would want to hear QOTSA’s new direction. His wife told him not to care and just write. Thankfully he did, creating a masterpiece that every rock fan should experience. —Chris Kies

Must-hear track: “Fairweather Friends”