The Foo Fighters officially released their seventh studio album, and their first new music in almost three years. As promised about two months ago, I have listened to the new album, and submit to you my review below.
Officially released this week, the album was unofficially “leaked” on the band’s own Facebook page on April 1. Although this was no April fools joke, you can listen to the entire album streaming here, and if you are me, you have a soundcloud plugin for the Chrome browser, and ripped the entire album. And I’m not worried about pirating the music either, as the bands superstar frontman Dave Grohl equates file sharing to making and sharing mix tapes as a kid. According to Grohl: “the most important thing is that people come and sing along when we pull into town on tour, sharing music is not a crime. It shouldn’t be. There should be a deeper meaning to making music than just selling downloads.” Amen brother, after all, it is only compressed audio.
Back to the album. I think it is pretty safe to say that for Foo fans such as myself, this album was well hyped. In a pitch to get back to the roots of making rock music, Grohl built a studio in his garage and the entire album was recorded to tape. No computers, no frills, just rocking. I suppose it helps that they brought in legendary producer Butch Vig, who helped craft albums such as Nevermind by Nirvana and Garbage by Garbage. Wasting Light also brought in the return of original Foo guitarist Pat Smear, and guest appearances by Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic and Husker Du legend Bob Mould. So with the star-studded cast and old school production, could the album really live up to the publicity? In short, yes.
One good aspect of the Foos throughout the years is their singable choruses that go right along with the radio-friendly singles. But perhaps an even better aspect is the live show they put on, and how their songs are reproduce in a stadium setting. Chelsea and I can attest to this latter point, as we saw them live in Rochester, NY and both agree that this was one of the best concerts we have ever been to. This album hits on both points above, radio playability, and rock concert anthems. I can easily hear a bit of both in this one, which is what helps the Foos to be such a successful group in the age of dwindling album sales.
I have listened to the album probably everyday since downloading it, and I can certainly hear influences from all their previous works. What I mean by this is that many of these songs would fit seamlessly onto their old albums. For example, the song “White Limo” sounds very similar to “Weanie Beanie”, which Dave recorded on his own for their first album. See for yourself:
I happen to really like the raw, screaming rock found in the original Foo Fighters album, so I like both of these. However this may not be of interest to the casual Foos fan, and luckily for them “White Limo” is a bit of a black sheep on Wasting Light. “Bridge Burning” is currently my favorite song, and sounds a lot like it could be on an album from one of Grohl’s side projects Them Crooked Vultures. Their first official single “Rope” could have been put on what is arguably their best album, The Color and the Shape, and I think you can hear Pat Smears influence here. The tracks “Dear Rosemary” and “Alandria” are two well rounded, well constructed rock songs, that just might hit the radio down the line. “These Days” and “Back and Forth” are the two weakest points of the album, although I wouldn’t rule them out from radio play either. These would have fit in on In Your Honor or Echoes Silence Patience and Grace, two more recent FF albums that try but are a bit of a tired sound to me. “Matter of time” and “Miss the misery” are two classic Foo Fighters songs, easy to listen to but not life-changing. The second to last song “I should have known” sounds unlike many songs the Foos have produced before, and might be some sort of homage to their influences, and still hits. And we are to the final song of Wasting Light, “Walk”. I’m not sure what I think of this one, at first it sounded like it would be in some sort of sports montage, but the more I listen to it, the more I enjoy the range in Grohl’s voice.
A few of the songs were hits right away, and a few of them will probably continue to get the skip treatment on my iPod, but overall I liked it a lot. It might be number 4 on my list of Foo Albums, with the potential to move up.