Wasting Light is my favorite Foo Fighters album thus far. However, that’s not really saying much since I’ve never particularly liked them. I can’t think of any songs by the band that I would consider especially memorable and while their newest album does in fact provide a few songs that will stick with you, that’s just not enough for me to recommend it.
Having said that, I was mildly impressed with the Foo Fighters’ latest effort. Dave Grohl has never really managed to dazzle me before, short of his work in Nirvana. I never felt that he had his own distinct sound and I thought he just tried too hard to avoid anything that had to do with Kurt Cobain‘s style. Basically, I thought that the Foo Fighters only ‘made it ‘strictly because Grohl was once part of the legendary Nirvana.
With their seventh studio album my feelings for the band are slowly starting to change. It seems like they may have been able to find that delicate balance which has eluded them up until now. Grohl brought in Nirvana’s producer (Butch Vig), and their bassist (Krist Novoselic) for the album and is once again joined by former bandmate Pat Smear, who served as a touring guitarist for Nirvana after the release of their 1993 album In Utero and was a member of the Foo Fighters until 1997.
The entire album was recorded in Grohl’s garage, which definitely gives it a grungy-style and it was completely done using analog equipment. Gone are some of those ballads that made me throw up on earlier albums and instead we have a few strong tracks that give the band an aggressive and intense vibe.
The albums starts with a bang as we are treated to Bridge Burning, a pop rock song. From the moment Grohl yells “these are my famous last words,” opening up the album, the disc maintains a good groove right until the last song Walk. I was able to listen to the album all the way through without issue. That being said, there are only a couple songs which I may one day consider adding to my iPod. I was impressed, but not totally won over.
Props have to go out to the track I Should Have Known, which is just a flat-out fantastic tune. Harrowing, heartfelt and deep, it’s also very telling. The song’s lyrics seem to be a clear cry to Cobain, though his name is never uttered. I also read somewhere that it was a tune for Grohl’s friend who passed away in 2008, Jimmy Swanson. As Grohl belts out “I should have known there was that side of you, came without a warning, caught me on a web. I should have known, I’ve been here before,” he sings with a passion I never knew he had. No matter who it is dedicated to, it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite songs by the band. It shows us that Grohl does indeed have depth and perhaps even a dark side to him. Along with Arlandria, it’s one of the best written songs on the album.
Speaking of Arlandria, it’s easily the most Nirvana-esque song on the album, channeling Grohl’s former band both respectfully and effectively. Also of note is Dear Rosemary. While it strongly resembles The Raconteurs’ Steady, As She Goes, Bob Mould of Husker Du and Sugar hops on to make for a duet that provides a classic rock slow burner which is quite listenable. It boasts a fantastic chorus and just may be the band’s next big hit.
In Walk, an optimistic anthem, Grohl once again expresses to us his desire to learn. He’s already told us about his desire to learn to fly and now he sings about learning to both talk and walk again. As Grohl shouts “I never wanna die!”, the song takes on the form of a perfect curtain call, closing out the album in an almost college rock fashion. It’s a rocker similar to Learn To Fly and was clearly recorded with stadiums in mind.
Most of the other songs sound alright but are lackluster in both style and substance. There’s a lot of filler here and like I said at the start of the review, there are only a few songs that will stick with me. Perhaps the album was more catered to their long time fans because while I was somewhat impressed, I just wasn’t fully with it.
Hardcore fans will argue this is the Foo Fighters‘ best effort since ‘The Colour And The Shape’ and more casual fans may be indifferent. For non-fans like myself, I can appreciate the work put forth by the group. The album is a step in the right direction for both Grohl and his bandmates. I’m not sure if people really love the band or just miss Nirvana that much? Either way it’s a good effort and it shows that instead of crossing into Nickelback territory, the band seems to have a little fight in them after all.
Wasting Light was released on April 12th, 2011