The New Foo

The New Foo

Apr 19, 2011
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Back when the Foo Fighters released 2007’s “Echoes, drug Silence, Patience and Grace”, I was blown away. The two albums they spawned before that seemed to be devolving into a boring melting pot of acoustic-folk-rock, light on hooks, energy and originality. So, “Echoes…” was a refreshing release, chockfull of intensity, musical creativity and lyrical rawness.

Coming up on this latest release, four years later, I was curious and nervous at the same time. Could the Foo deliver yet again with, “Wasting Light”? Well, when I heard that Butch Vig was in the Producer’s chair and Pat Smear was officially back in the band I was fairly certain that this album couldn’t be bad. But would it build on the momentum created by their last great album?

Upon first listen I was relieved and elated. The mighty Foo have delivered an amazing album. That said, it’s different from “Echoes…” or anything else they’ve released for that matter. It’s still full of melodic hooks, huge guitar riffs, bombastic drums and screaming vocals. But it feels less analyzed, more raw and straight from the heart. I remember the first album having that quality. Except back then it was just Dave Grohl and he was venturing out on his own for the first time. It had a green quality for sure. Well, 16 years later and 4 members stronger, there is a symbiotic fusion of 5 great, seasoned rockers and you can tell they’re not thinking too hard. They’re just letting it flow. A rare sound amidst today’s pre-fabricated, overly synthetic world of boring artists.

There are definitely a number of stand-out tracks; “Bridge Burning”, “Rope”, “Arlandria” to name a few. Still, there’s not a bad song here. In fact, it’s one of the most consistent albums I’ve heard in years. By the time I reached the last track, I immediately started back at the top. I just wanted to hear the whole thing again from beginning to end. How many albums can you say that about? “Wasting Light” is also the heaviest project released by the Foo Fighters. At times you can hear how Queens of the Stone Age may have rubbed off on Grohl’s songwriting (“White Limo” for example). It’s not a criticism, rather a compliment. Because it’s not blatant stealing. It’s seamlessly infused into the Foo sound. It’s awesome. Not one track gets away without being blasted with at least some measure of massive, chunky guitars and explosive vocals. Even the softest songs (“These Days”, “I Should Have Known” and “Walk”) don’t stay quiet for long. There’s no mistaking that the Foo Fighters set out to make a massive-in-your-face-rock-and-roll-album and they’ve succeeded joyously.

Besides unhindered performances and great songwriting there is one other ingredient that makes this a unique album. Apparently the band set up in Grohl’s garage to record the whole thing. I saw pictures of his garage. It’s a real garage; kids bikes, drywall, concrete floor, flourescent lights…a real garage. They tracked everything on to analogue tape (24 track). Then they did any editing on tape, mixed each song through an analogue console (NO automation) and kept mastering in the analogue realm. The only point this stuff gets digital is when they had to create the MP3s and CDs for distribution. If you know nothing about how songs get recorded, know that how “Wasting Light” was made is virtually unheard of today. The effect is immediately evident. The album is sonically hairy, dark and dense. It’s a major reason this sounds like their heaviest release. Unlike their previous albums which had a sparkle and shine, making the sound more palatable for the pop audience, “Wasting Light” is raw, fuzzy and even ugly at times. It’s the full realization of the Foo Fighters true rock ‘n roll aspirations.

This album makes me happy. Seriously. I love the Foo Fighters. David Grohl is an immensely talented musician, a prolific songwriter and super cool dude to boot. He’s a true rock star without the douche-baggery. So it’s great to see after all these years of line-up changes and struggles, this great rock band has risen to a place where they are clear-minded, self-assured and gettin’ their ya-ya’s out like there’s no tomorrow. The Foo is shining brighter than ever with “Wasting Light”.

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Craig the Critic

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