The first news on Foo Fighters releasing a new album this year did not get any decent reaction from me – probably a few new pop-rock tunes to hear from “alternative“ radio stations and surely a nominee for the next MTV awards, but nothing more, thought I, shrugging my shoulders and closing the newsletter. As someone once quite fitly said about the Foo Fighters: seeking a thrill from their album is like trying to find the artistic value of “Desperate Housewives“ – you do not turn it off when it’s playing on the background, as it does not exceed to annoy you; you sometimes, when it’s on and you’re bored to death, even watch an episode or two but you would never imagine yourself dashing to the cinema to see the new movie or be willing to sacrifice hours of standing in line to get the collectors’ DVD. Well, that’s what I thought of FF before „Wasting Light“ as well.
There are numerous true gems on the Foos’ seventh album, ranging from ripping thrash-punk tunes to gloomy ballads which are all neatly delivered to the eager ear. The neatness, perhaps, being usually a turn-off considering mainstream alternative rock groups, seems to be the key element bringing this album to a whole. Despite the lability of style, the guys know how to master their instruments and yet again, less being more, as they carry the album perfectly out by keeping it professional and -- simple.
White Limo, being an absolute favourite of mine, shocks the listener with rampant killer punk-metal riffs and amazing screamo-vocals from Grohl, backed with Hawkins’ blastbeatish pulse and nearly squealing guitar riffs. Not to mention the ingenious video shot up looking like a 90s home video / an over-the-top “Jackass” sketch, where the clearly intoxicated Lemmy from Motörhead drives the band round LA with a white limo.
Offering some serious competition for the best track on the album is the tear-breaker I Should Have Known, a heavyweight confessional piece dedicated to Grohl’s suicidal friend (sidenote: not Cobain!). The murky jam with Krist Novoselic on bass and accordion takes you somewhere cold and damp, into hoplessness and solitude through a magnificent hypnotic play of notes and rythm.
The chart-conquering Rope performs well over expectations as well. There are no signs of a boring 4-chord Foo Fighters’ sample hit, as the track has more to it than the headliners of their previous albums have all together. Rope starts out with a brilliant minimalistic intro (with late downbeat drop-in – something you’d expect from e.g Incubus) and a catchy combo of verse and pre-chorus with a clever funk to it, combining it all to a cute energetic chorus perfectly suitable for a love song as the lyrics tell. Followed by a ravishing drum solo, the song has it all to make waves among an avid Fighters’ fan as well as any other melomaniac.
But then there’s a whole bunch of songs that are kinda a bore. Back And Forth, for instance, succeeds horribly well in mimicking Jon Bon Jovi and highly-praised Alandria brings me the shivers – clearly not the good ones – as the chorus associates to me only with Õllesummer and Jaagup Kreem. But hey, no good without bad, right?
Yet another disappointment strikes when I realise that in addition to the good and the bad that tend to go hand-in-hand there are several other tracks that have received comments such as “typical FF”, “Times Like These vol.2”, “standard crowd-pleaser” and “stadium material”. Counting the pros and cons, it vaguely starts to show that the not-that-pleasant songs drub the gems by far, making them more like the rarities of the album than the overall look to discribe Wasting Light as a whole.
So is it true that I’ve been brainwashed by the media in the most obvious sense? Seems so, for hearing that FF is recording an album with Nirvana’s producer Buch Vig (Nevermind) and guest appearances such as Novoselic and Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü) plus the fact that the whole album is recorded in Grohl’s garage on analog tape got my dribble running and imagination afloat. Nevertheless, the album is definitely a step for the better when keeping the fact that we’re talking about Foo Fighters in mind. Let’s just hope the next LP will keep a similar upwards line and in a few years, Grohl & co will have the label “pop rock” shaken off of them.