Album: Foo Fighters, Wasting Light
We review the Foo Fighter's seventh album, Wasting Light...
It has been widely reported that the Foo Fighters’ latest album, Wasting Light (out today), was recorded in frontman Dave Grohl’s garage, in a ‘back-to-basics’ effort, reflected further in the band’s choice to use analogue instead of digital. But with (probably) a pretty plush garage to hand and years of rock anthem production behind them, Grohl and co have managed to make Wasting Light just as polished a record as any of their massive previous releases.
The Grammy-winning, platinum-selling, stadium-filling rock favourites kick off their seventh studio album with Bridge Burning and an intro which reaffirms Grohl’s promise that Wasting Light is to be the Foos’ heaviest offering yet. After the initial screaming of ‘These are my famous last words’ however, the track simmers into a more catchy chorus - a familiar approach which continues throughout the album - an effort that is bound to please their arena-going fan base.
Indeed, there is nothing much new to be heard here and it seems clear that those stadium masses were never far from the group’s thoughts during the album’s writing process.
Lead single Rope perfectly captures the feel of Wasting Light, with its in-your-face and urgent guitars, set between those typical Foos, hooky choruses. The result is a satisfyingly grittier sound that simultaneously manages to never venture too far from the comforts of those big, stadium-packing melodies.
Crossing over seamlessly into the pop bracket is the light-hearted Back and Forth and A Matter of Time, with its repeated oo-oo-ing and a Monkey Wrench-type guitar-riff you can see coming a mile off. The pared back intro is refreshing at first but continues with a frustrating restraint and it feels like it just takes too long to really get going.
The real departures in Wasting Light are White Limo - with its angsty, punk-thrashing - and the reflective I Should Have Known, a rare ballad of frustrated sadness and an elegy for Grohl’s friend Jimmy Swanson who died of an overdose in 2008. ‘I can not forgive you yet,’ Grohl screams repeatedly, making the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.
While the powerfully heartfelt nature of I Should Have Known makes the track a high point on the album, the Foos are at their peak in album closer, Walk, which evokes vulnerability and optimism with a heart-warming melody and irresistibly anthemic climax. It’s not difficult to picture the crowd scene at the end of a gig as Grohl chants: ‘I'm on my knees, I'm waiting for a sign/Forever, whenever/I never wanna die/I never wanna die...’
There might be few revelations on Wasting Light but as the saying goes: if it aint broke, don’t fix it. This album just proves that The Foos can still deliver the goods consistently, seven albums on. There are glimmers of raw freshness (in the likes of I Should Have Known) and even some of their finest work (Walk) but the band are careful to not break away from those commercial roots they have most recently grown from. A solid album that is unlikely to disappoint fans.