Everything Dave Grohl touches seems to turn gold: Nirvana, Foo Fighters, and he’s even had a hand in Tenacious D, Queens of the Stone Age, and Them Crooked Vultures.
The Foo Fighters have put out some legendary albums: The Colour and the Shape (1997), There Is Nothing Left to Lose (1999), One by One (2002), In Your Honor (2005). Having great success with smash hits and some brilliantly funny music videos.
There lies the problem, they have a lot to live up to with every new album that they put out. And this is where I think their last album Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace (2007) fell short. It had a couple of singles and the rest of the album was fodder. Don’t get me wrong, fodder for Dave Grohl is still better than anything Chad Kroeger could write, but we hold our beloved Fighters of Foo to a higher standard.
Do they meet this standard with Wasted Light?
I think they do. I think it’s a solid album, but it doesn’t blow me away. You can hear what songs are made for radio and what songs aren’t. To put it another way, if this were almost anyone else this would be a really good album. For them, it’s just good.
Their first single “Rope” is classic Foo, fast, fun and Grohl knows the formula for making these songs better than almost anyone. No doubt a perk of his time spent with Nirvana and one of the simplification kings in Kurt Cobain. He knows how to hit only the notes that are needed to make the song sound good. There’s no guitar solos, no drum solos, there’s just what needs to be there to make the song work. Most songs are slow to start, quiet during the verse (you mean we can actually understand what you’re singing?!?!?) and then explode into a chorus and usually abruptly bellyflops back to the silence of the verse. It’s their formula for getting songs on the radio:
* does not apply to every song they release
They really dig into the ’90s vibe with songs like “Back & Forth,” “Miss the Misery,” and they close the album on a great note with the alternative feel (and 2nd single) of “Walk.” Even better, the ballad on the album “I Should Have Known” really hits home. It’s pretty: driving bass lines, simple drums and slow guitar and a more harmonic singing approach that still captures Grohl’s scratchiness and style. Until it builds up. Then we hit full on Foo Fighters goodness that explodes in the last minute and a half. A really great song, choosing to bury it second to last kind of hurts, but the change of pace was certainly welcomed. Besides the already released singles “Rope” and now “Walk” the other song that seems radio friendly is “Arlandria.”
Overall, this album has enough bright spots to impress, but there’s just a few songs that are unimpressive. I severely disliked “White Limo.” But will give them credit for trying something a little harder on the ears… they just missed the mark with this one. I feel like “A Matter of Time” is redundant and we’ve heard this song from them before in “I’ll Stick Around” from Foo Fighters.
I like the album. I’m glad they tried to go in a couple of new directions, but they missed on a couple songs and a couple of them don’t add anything but the status quo to the album.