Saturday, July 2, 2011

Foo Fighters: Wasting Light

     Foo Fighters are arguably the biggest rock band out there, and if you don't know who they are, well, you've been missing out. Formed in 1994, they are one of the few big groups to successfully make it out of the 90's into the new millennium. 'Wasting Light' is very much a 'back to basics' album, recorded in frontman Dave Grohl's garage with simple analog equipment used up until post-production. That's pretty impressive. It's a solid effort from one of the most consistently good old-school rockers still going strong.
     This isn't the best record they've ever made though, but it's certainly better than 'The Colour and the Shape'. They're getting back on form, be it flying there on autopilot, which they have been for quite a while now. There isn't anything particularly bad here, but then there's not really anything that memorable or revolutionary either, elements undeniably present on the band's earlier output. It's studio rock at it's very best., but Foo Fighters have taken a subtle change sonically to incorporate more anthemic, dirtier sounds, which in a way, suit them. If they're better when they're loud, then this just might be their best record yet. The lyrics aren't the most imaginable and are even cringe worthy at times, with relentlessly generic phrases dropping a few originality points, but the production and energy goes part way in painting over these cracks. The frowns arise however, as no amount of paint will repair core structural problems, despite the obvious quality. Queen of the Stone Age  member Josh Homme's influence does stamps it's mark on the sound too, with thick and appeasing guitars, but I suppose I was just looking forward to perhaps a little more fresh content, as opposed to the recycled chord progressions and melodies that we've all heard before, be it with a slight anthemic edge. It's simply more of the same.
     Having said that, there are some killer tracks that differentiate themselves from the fillers that have crept into the eleven songs. Almost every one of these is longer than four minutes, which creates, like I said before, a very solid, secure foundation upon which to build. The opener, 'Bridge Burning', of which we had a glimpse of before the lp was released, is classic Foo Fighters, mixing hard-rock with melodic verses, with Grohl's iconic scream setting the album off with a bang. The first single from the record, 'Rope', then builds into an okay hook and climaxes with  fantastically long notes. The sound is undeniably Foo, but perhaps that's part of the problem. As you're listening, there isn't anything wrong, but at the back of your mind you're trying to remember which Foo Fighters track you've heard that particular melody on before. It all feels a bit tired, a concept that may well be hard to comprehend considering the loud and hard-rock sensibilities this album encompasses, especially with the vocals the way they are.
     Some of the best tracks for me are the next three, 'Dear Rosemary', 'White Limo' and 'Arlandria', purely because they're the ones that try the hardest to do something different, varying the album in an enjoyable manner. 'Dear Rosemary' is one of the softer tracks that still retains a passion and very subtle classic rock guitar at the start. The chorus makes this song for me though, with slight rock-opera vibes coming through with the predominantly deep vocals. 'White Limo' on the other hand is a gritty, filthy rock scream-fest, with the lyrics barely understandable. I don't know if that's a good thing, but it certainly added variety to the album! 'Arlandria' is another song of the softer persuasion, with the same Foo Fighter lyricism, highlighted by the magnificent hook, and the very openly anthemic, 'join-in-and-shout' element. The climax half way through is also great. Another notable track is 'These Days', with it's stark opening, but 'I Should Have Known' is most definitely my favourite. It's passion comes through immediately within the reverb soaked vocals, outstanding instrumentation and slow, ballad-like structure.
     You might be thinking round about now whether I like the album or not, considering the second paragraph and the one you've just read. Truth be told, I don't dislike it, but I'm just not in love with it. Nothing struck me as immediately horrible to listen to, but then nothing struck me as memorable or even very original if you've been following Foo Fighters for a while. They've definitely made the effort, throwing in some classics, 'I Should Have Known' and 'Dear Rosemary' especially, but I only enjoyed them because they steered away from the rest of the album. That itself is solid. If you want some very good Foo Fighters, then check this out, but I personally enjoy a band that progresses more than this one has with 'Wasting Light'. It's more of the same, and perhaps you can't get too much of a good thing, but for me, it was ever so slightly disappointing. Not bad as such, just disappointing.
Also, missed out my shout-out to Harry, who wanted this review, so thank you to him!