Release Date: Apr 12, 2011
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Hard Rock
Record label: RCA
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"Let's change the subject to someone else," Dave Grohl suggests in a brief quiet space, between bursts of high-speed riffing, in "A Matter of Time." If only it was that easy. Seventeen years after the death of Nirvana guitarist Kurt Cobain, the shattering end of Grohl's previous band continues to haunt the popwise punk he makes as the singer-guitarist-boss of Foo Fighters. "Memories keep haunting me/Help me chase them all away," Grohl pleads on Wasting Light, through the guitar rain of "Arlandria," sounding like a guy who knows there will never be enough amps and distortion in the world to drown out the unanswered whys in his head.
Forget all that nonsense about Dave Grohl listening to the Bee Gees and ABBA when writing Wasting Light. You can even forget Bob Mould's killer cameo on "Dear Rosemary,” no matter how seamlessly the Hüsker Dü frontman’s patented growl slides into the Foo Fighters' roar. What really matters is that nearly ten years after Songs for the Deaf, Josh Homme's influence finally rears its head on a Foo Fighters record, Dave Grohl leading his band of merry marauders -- including Pat Smear, who returns to the fold for the first time since 1997’s The Colour and the Shape -- through the fiercest album they’ve ever made.
If it took them going back to their roots to make an album this good then so be it. It’d be very easy to over-analyse the Foo Fighters’ seventh album, but that would annihilate the point. Granted, it’s certainly interesting that the band enlisted the production services of one Butch Vig 20 years after he worked on ‘Nevermind’, as is the fact another Nirvana alumnus, Krist Novoselic, also appears on the record.
We’re a measly two decades out, but ’90s nostalgia is already hitting its dubious peak: Scuffed-up Doc Martens and slouchy flannel shirts are ubiquitous again, My So-Called Life DVDs are required (re-)viewing, and Pearl Jam are steadily reissuing their grunge-defining back catalog. Still, it’s hard for any new band to compete with Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl’s post-Nirvana behemoth. Wasting Light, the group’s seventh studio album — and first since 2007 — was recorded with rock überproducer Butch Vig (he manned the boards for Sonic Youth, the Smashing Pumpkins, and, yes, Nirvana) in Grohl’s basement using only analog equipment.
We’ve seen it on YouTube, and for some, it’s been seen in 3-D on the big screen. After a two-year hiatus, Foo Fighters return as a five-piece to tout a ruckus of a new record, Wasting Light. So far 2011 has been the year rock makes a comeback, and it’s been nice to have it back. For as much anticipation as Wasting Light has been given, thanks to the huge promotional push, the reality is exactly what is to be expected from a Foo album: solid, no-frills, modern rock.
Wasting Light is the best Foo Fighters album in a good long while. One by One has its defenders, but this is probably the best thing they’ve done since The Colour and the Shape. Partly, this is because Wasting Light has more modest intentions and scope than some of its predecessors. After spending a couple of albums proving that they’re more than just a rock band—crafting double-album statements, releasing mature acoustic or piano-based stuff—Foo Fighters seem to have rediscovered the joys of being, at heart, a good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll band.
"These are my famous last words," declares Dave Grohl at the opening of the Foo Fighters' highly anticipated seventh album, on the song "Bridges Burning. " Surely rather than the beginning of the end, however, Wasting Light marks a return to the Foo Fighters' roots. It has been four years since the group's last record, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, and 14 years since former Germs and Nirvana guitarist Pat Smears' astonishing ax-work was showcased on a Foo Fighters' album, 1997's The Colour and the Shape.
The victory lap is almost as important for the soul as crossing the line first. Getting back to the base elements of what makes you you is the only way to stay sane and rein shit in; trying to rebottle the lightning is only going to end badly. You know who tries to do stuff like that? Johnny Borrell. And no-one likes that guy.[b]‘Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace’[/b] saw the Foos tip their grandest scale yet.
Review Summary: No filler! Finally, it's the album the Foos always had in them.It's tough for old dogs to learn new tricks, particularly ones as long in the tooth and weather-beaten (not to mention successful) as Dave Grohl. He's happy and polite enough in interviews to seem youthful, but let's not lose sight of the fact that between Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Probot, Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures, and lesser-known projects like Dain Bramage, Mission Impossible, Scream, and The Backbeat Band, this is the 21st studio album Grohl has been a major part of in his 42 years (and that's just a rough count - I've probably missed a couple). That doesn't include collaborations or live albums either.
For every die-hard Foo Fighters fan, Wasting Light represents a resurgence, which contradicts the notion that a fanatic will repudiate to any form of innovative progression. All the spiritual components of what the band used to be are all in one place: Pat Smear is back on the Hagstrom guitar; Kris Novoselic guests; Butch Vig records with Nirvana members after 20 years. Such a linkage is misleading, as there never was connective tissue that strengthened the Foo Fighters name.
Dave Grohl didn't make it easy for himself. Not long after Nirvana dissolved in April 1994, following Kurt Cobain's suicide, Grohl was offered the opportunity to back Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. For him, a Petty fan, that was a dream job. Though he would drum with them during a "Saturday Night Live" performance later that year, Grohl ultimately declined, to start over from scratch and do what he's still doing today: front a band.
Foo Fighters fans hoping for a back-to-basics hard rock album get exactly that with Wasting Light. Don't take too seriously all the promotional hype about it being recorded in a garage to analog tape without the aid of computers - it's as slick and stadium-ready as ever. Diehards will eat up the band's seventh album, but it won't win them any new fans.
Every new Foo Fighters record brings with it an increasingly insecure expectation that perhaps the band will regain a fraction of the alterna-rock goodness that was their 1995 self-titled debut and its follow-up, The Colour and the Shape. The usual expectations are heightened on Wasting Light with the inclusion of steady-handed super-producer Butch Vig, the long-overdue return of guitarist Pat Smear, a guest appearance by Krist Novoselic, and what is supposedly a strict adherence to analog-only production. Listeners’ opinions of the band’s seventh album will largely be decided by how excited they are by those last four details, and ultimately, how they reconcile the fact that, despite those things, Wasting Light appears to be just another good, if forgettable, entry in the Foo Fighters catalogue.
When a band's music takes them into stadiums, the stadiums can often then exert undue influence on their music. Thus Wasting Light is a typically supersized arena-rock barrage, with lots of howling and wailing, every chorus tailored to imaginary walls of pyrotechnics and some tracks seemingly specifically constructed to accommodate a guitar spot or drum solo. Recorded in Grohl's garage with Nirvana's Nevermind producer Butch Vig at the console and that band's live guitarist Pat Smear back in the fold, it's not so much a reconnection with their roots as what Nirvana might have turned into if Kurt Cobain hadn't died.
In a way, it's very hard for me to say bad things about the Foo Fighters. On a personal level, they were a gateway band who bridged the gap after Nirvana and led on to other discoveries. They were always great live, and Dave Grohl unnervingly likeable in the way only the extremely nice can be. But though their popularity grew year on year after The Colour And The Shape, the fruits of their labour became somewhat generic and predictable.
Why have three guitars in a band? Why have eighteen strings? Why have sixty-some frets, all to play a few chords, to strum a few notes? “Rope” is why you have three guitars. “Rope” is why you bring original guitarist Pat Smear back into the fold. The first single off Wasting Light, the Foo Fighters’ latest album, showcases the band’s newfound versatility.
Grohl and the gang prove again that nice guys can finish first. Ian Winwood 2011 In December last year the Foo Fighters managed to sell 110,000 tickets for two upcoming summer concerts at the National Bowl in Milton Keynes in less time than it would take to eat a bowl of cereal. More than Green Day, more, even, than Muse, it seems that the claim to the title of Britain’s Favourite Rock Band lies with Dave Grohl’s band of merry everymen.
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