Back to Basics
Dave Grohl and company have a daunting responsibility. After playing a host of global tours and winning a Grammy for Best Rock Album for 2007’s Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, Foo Fighters have a mammoth legacy to maintain. Wasting Light, their seventh album, goes about that task with an arsenal of analog tape, raw energy, and a little help from some friends.
Butch Vig (of Nevermind fame) produced the album, which was recorded in Grohl’s California garage. Wasting Light is, in some respects, a return to the band’s grungy roots. This is nowhere more apparent than in the intense churning guitars and fierce drum roll bursting out on the album’s opening track, “Bridge Burning,” as Grohl snarls out, “These are my famous last words”—talk about starting with a bang. The pseudo-metal “White Limo” assaults your ears even harder, punctuated by Grohl’s guttural screams and a driving rhythm from drummer Taylor Hawkins.
The Foos’ more melodic tendencies shine through on “Arlandria” with a hooky pop chorus and almost tender vocals from Grohl, crooning in the verses and the bridge. The quasi-acoustic guitar gives “These Days” a warm, bluesy feel, even as Grohl promises “one of these days, your heart will be broken.” Even in the brightest track on the album, there’s a painful element—expected, perhaps, from a band that rose from the ashes of Nirvana). The brooding “I Should Have Known,” featuring symphonic strings and a guest appearance from Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, makes this clear; though two decades have passed, Grohl sings, “I cannot forgive you yet.”
Wasting Light is, in many ways, a return to Foo Fighters’ roots in the flannel-ridden grunge rock of the ’90s. It’s radio-ready for the most part; the big, poppy choruses of songs like “Rope,” “Back & Forth,” and especially the closing track “Walk,” echo the band’s easily digested hit “Times Like These.” The album is definitely enjoyable to listen to, but only just that. Maybe that’s all we can expect from a band seven albums and 17 years in.