The first new release in six years from this iconic modern psyche- and metal-tinged blues-rock outfit is going to (almost) disappoint a fair number of fans. It might impress a fair number as well — and they could be ridiculed for it. The irksome part is that most probably won’t be able to deny Clockwork’s exquisite production and the fine performance of lead Queen, singer-songwriter-guitarist Josh Homme, who strikes out into uncharted territories for his brand of rock. “I Sat By the Ocean” has a groovy bass line and agile guitar hooks, almost poppy enough to throw off some Queens fans. “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” has some booming drums and ominous bass moans that might bore other fans. The lyricism spans the spectrum from derivative doggerel to spooky surrealistic sonnets to some disarmingly heavy-hearted balladry — over soft, drifty pianos and moody guitars. “I never lie to myself … rose-tinted eyes color my sorrow a shade of white,” Homme croons on “Kalopsia,” atop syrupy pianos and a fuzzy, AM-pop-tinged organ. Relax, metal fans, that tune quickly kicks into a heavy chopping, feedback-frilled storm of guitars and devastating drums. After almost 15 years of speeding down the desert roads of the Queens’ musical canon, we know we’re longing for something beyond a post-grunge aesthetic. Homme has turned the Queens’ car down a different road, so it depends on whether you like what you see through the windshield.
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