Queens of the Stone Age are bringing back some of the mystery to the album release process. This year, performers such as David Bowie, Justin Timberlake, and Fall Out Boy have all been trying to surprise audiences with their new music, to varying degrees of success. (Beck put out an album of sheet music, for crissakes.) QOTSA keep providing a steady breadcrumb trail of guest-artist news and excruciatingly cryptic clues.
As Antiquiet points out, QOTSA have now published three hard-to-parse letters in U.K. music magazines. The latest comes via Kerrang. They previously shared one with Uncut in January and another, last December, in Mojo. At first, it was easy to get caught up in the band's colorfully vague descriptions of the music on the upcoming record — "codeine cabaret"! — but now a few potentially revealing themes are starting to emerge about one of SPIN's 50 Albums You Gotta Hear in 2013.
There have been clocks in the artwork accompanying each message, each set to or close to the number nine. Each letter has also included the number nine in its text, including the neat phrase last time "almost dialed 999." Trying to figure out what this all means can lead to some embarrassing speculation of the "this is their sixth album and '6' is '9' upside-down" variety, but that's what we're dealing with here.
Each message also has a bit of text at the top that's in bigger letters than the rest. Coincidence? Who knows! But as a user on the Fade fan forum has pointed out, if you put them all together you get "A Stitch In Time Will Save You 9, But.. Some Things You Can't Fix, So.. If You Find.." We'll certainly keep our eyes on other British music magazines, but it would make sense for this seeming rhyme to end with a "six," right? Could the release date be Monday, May 6? Monday would be the traditional U.K. album release day, but again, who knows. Still, kudos to QOTSA for making everybody work a little.
Given all the clues we've seen so far, it's also possible the album title might be in there somewhere. Does it have something to do with clocks? Phones? The number nine? "No trick at all," another phrase they keep using? If you enter your e-mail address on the QOTSA website, they send you a message saying, "What did you think would happen?" Keep an eye on those inboxes.
In the meantime, Queens guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen also keeps tweeting similarly inscrutable photographs. From the most recent evidence, he appears to be suggesting the album is in the mixing phase.
There's been one other clue. As theFade.net notes, the phrase "A stitch in time," from that first letter, also appears in the song "Holey Dime," from QOTSA's 10th Desert Sessions album, Volume 10: I Heart Disco. The band has traditionally released songs from the Desert Sessions on its own albums; could "Holey Moley" be this year's contender?
All that said, we do know a few things about the QOTSA record for sure (we think — at this point, Josh Homme could convince us we're living in the Matrix). Guests involved in making the album include Elton John, Dave Grohl, Trent Reznor, and Scissors Sisters' Jake Shears, plus Songs for the Deaf-era QOTSA members Mark Lanegan and Nick Oliveri.
We'll keep you posted when we know anything more, but once again, it's fun to see a band actually keep everyone guessing about what's up their sleeve. The text of the latest note is below, along with the full art:
...SOME THINGS YOU CAN'T FIX SO...
ON THIS RECORD WE CAME TO A REALIZATION: THE BEST TRICK OF ALL, IS NO TRICK AT ALL
THE SONGS ARE A REAL TIME DOCUMENT OF THE MANIC UPS AND DOWNS OF THE LAST YEAR. IT CAN'T ALWAYS RUN LIKE CLOCKWORK. SO RATHER THAN CONTROL THE DIRECTION OF THE RECORDINGS, WE DECIDED TO RIDE SHOTGUN ON OUR EMOTIONAL BANDWAGON. WE EMBRACED OUR EVIL, HELD THE HORRIBLE, LICKED THE LUNACY AND BLEW THE BEAUTIFUL. AS A RESULT, WE'RE ON CLOUD 9.
I CAN'T WRITE ANYMORE CAUSE MY PHONE'S DYING,
QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE