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Foo Fighters - Wasting Light (Album Review)

Thursday, 07 April 2011 Written by Dave Ball
Foo Fighters - Wasting Light (Album Review)

Despite the lukewarm response to ‘Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace’ in 2007 Foo Fighters have spent the ensuing years establishing themselves as a Worldwide stadium rock band and ‘Wasting Light’, which will be released on April 11th, has had a bigger sense of anticipation than anything they’ve done previously.

Since then, Dave Grohl has become a household name and further enhanced his growing legacy with the massive success of side project supergroup ‘Them Crooked Vultures’, guesting on Slash’s smash hit solo album and being crowned a ‘God-like genius’ by NME recently. If you throw in the appearance of ex Nirvana bandmate Krist Novoselic and ‘Nevermind’ producer Butch Vig it’s fair to say expectations are as high as they could ever be for ‘Wasting Light’. It’s also fair to say they’ve met those expectations and then some.

ImageEvery piece of press coverage leading up to this release has described how Grohl and Co have returned to their roots, with the band even recording the whole album using analogue tape in Grohl’s garage-come-studio at his LA home. If you didn’t believe him then prepare yourself for the opening 45 seconds of ‘Bridge Burning’ as they are likely to blow you clean off your feet. It’s a track in the same vein as ‘The Pretender’ and ‘Breakout’ with a melodically screamed chorus and a pounding drum track provided by the often underrated Taylor Hawkins.

Leading straight into the now familiar ‘Rope', with it’s sharp, spiky guitar lines and stadium friendly chorus it’s a frenetic opening before ‘Dear Rosemary’, featuring guest vocals from Husker Du’s Bob Mould, a long time hero of Grohl’s, slows the pace but maintains the heavy undertone before ‘White Limo’ brings another explosion of distorted vocals. It sounds like the best song Kyuss never wrote and is the heaviest track on the album. Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister, who appears in the video for the song, would definitely approve of this.

‘Arlandria’ starts with a punch and the line, “Ain’t that the way it always starts”, before mellowing as it continues before ‘These Days’ provides this album's definitive lighter (or more likely mobile phone) in the air moment and contains another of Grohl’s trademark understated lyrics “One of these days the clocks will stop and time won’t mean a thing”.

‘Back & Forth’ offers another anthem in the making with a slow burning start drawing you into a familiar Foo’s sounding riff and big sing along chorus. “I’m looking for some back & forth with you, are you feeling the same as I do now” will no doubt be belted back at them at each and every huge gig they’ve got lined up for this summer.

‘A Matter Of Time’ has a great bass line, as do many of the tracks, and it is another song that on previous albums would have drifted into album filler mediocrity but the lack of over-production due to the recording method maintains a rawness even in the less remarkable tracks and the whole album is undoubtedly better for it.

Grohl’s lyrics come to the fore again in ‘Miss The Misery’ and you can feel the life experiences starting to come out in his tracks more on this album than ever before and it’s something that runs throughout the entire record.

If it feels like there’s been a drift more towards the tried and tested Foo’s formula for a few tracks the absolute standout of the album ‘I Should Have Known’ is tucked away as the penultimate track. One of the more anticipated moments of ‘Wasting Light’ due to the involvement of ex-Nirvana bandmate, bassist Krist Novoselic on a hauntingly played accordion, this is probably the most personal lyric Grohl has ever written. Feeling like an admission of personal regret towards a loss it will, almost inevitably be connected to Kurt Cobain although childhood friend Jimmy Swanson who died of an overdose in 2008 is more likely the subject. “I should have known, look at the shape you’re in” and “One thing is for certain, I am still standing here, I should have known” sound so personal it’s as if you’ve been lifted into the deepest, darkest depths of Grohl’s sub conscious. It stands in stark contrast to the muscular sounds throughout the album and the first half of the song is as heartfelt as anything he’s ever penned. The second half builds to a crescendo of crashing drums, thunderous bass and a rugged riff which only adds to the feeling of pain in the screamed refrain.

‘Walk’ closes the album and is another slow-builder which seems to describe someone returning to happiness from a breakup or loss “Learning to walk again, I believe I’ve waited long enough” and marks a positive ending to contrast the depth of hurt expressed in “I Should Have Known”, especially with the repeated “I never wanna die, I never wanna leave” during the tracks bridge.

There are a number of stand out songs here without question. Each of ‘Bridge Burning’, ‘Rope’ and ‘I Should Have Known’ will become fan favourites in no time, while ‘White Limo’ sounds even better and more raw live than it does here. It’s in no way just about Grohl either. If he learned one thing from working with two fellow legends in Them Crooked Vultures it was the power of the whole band and every member stands out here. Hawkins is at his peak behind the drums, Nate Mendel’s bass is more noticeable than in previous, more produced mixes and Chris Shiflett and Pat Smears guitars blend in and out of Grohl’s to form a wall of noise which never becomes messy and maintains a melody while always carrying a weightiness rarely seen on their more recent efforts.

The promise of a proper, old school rock record has been more than delivered and in going back to basics Foo Fighters have created an album of confidence, maturity and the highest quality of their entire career. In years to come this will be looked upon as their defining work, it really is that good.

Album Rating: 9/10

‘Wasting Light’ is available everywhere from April 11th.

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