by / April 19th, 2011 /

Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

 1/5 Rating

(Roswell/RCA)

It’s good to hear that the somewhat tumultuous relationship between Dave Grohl and various Foo Fighters has eased of late. The past decade has seen personal tensions affect their work, with One by One re-recorded in double quick time, a decision that came after the original sessions were filled with rows over Grohl’s non-committal attitude to the band. Even when the Foos’ frontman had put his Queens of the Stone Age flirtation into the past, the band were strangled by his ambition on the hugely flawed double album, In Your Honour.

Wasting Light is certainly better than both those records. It also puts the spectacularly successful Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace into the shade. It isn’t however, the quantum leap that some reactions have painted it as. There’s still the slump two thirds in (on the plodding ‘A Matter of Time’ and ‘Miss the Misery’), there’s still the Foos’ never-ending struggle with the middle-eight and Grohl still hides his voice in the mix whenever the tune isn’t quite there.

Unlike other Foo Fighters albums though, Wasting Light overcomes these low points because it actually sounds like a record that’s been carefully put together; 11 sections of what is overall an immensely entertaining piece of work. There’s a slight shift in tone from previous records as well – away from the jangled open chord melodies that muddied the waters in times past.

Take ‘Dear Rosemary’ three tracks in, which veers from a grand opening to a clever, spiky guitar line in the verses and an unforced, excellent chorus. Where once it felt as if Grohl and co patched together a horde of separate ideas to make several average songs, everything here feels in its place. ‘Dear Rosemary’ finishes off a trio that represents the band’s best ever opening to an album – with the abrupt thump of ‘Bridge Burning’ and relatively restrained first single ‘Rope’ starting matters.

Next up, ‘White Limo’ may have the whiff of QOTSA-lite (even down to the primal grunt at the outset) but it’s still good in its own right, injecting some pace into the first half of the record. ‘Arlandria’ and ‘These Days’ both have the air of ‘affable-rock’ that’s plagued the mid-section of the band’s previous output but are far more accomplished songs than the unfocused dross that’s often filled the Foos’ running order before now.

Elsewhere, as most of the planet will know at this stage, Krist Novoselic plays bass on the atmospheric ‘I Should Have Known’, which sounds like a downbeat Bond theme-tune, and in this case that’s a really good thing. Indeed, it ends up being one of the album’s highlights.

Even while the finale – ‘Walk’ – suffers from an unnecessarily cheesy vocal from Grohl it manages to survive with a great deal of credit. Another Foo Fighters crowd pleaser (there’s a hint of ‘Learning to Fly’ toned-down about it), it proves to be a suitable ending. Upbeat, unchallenging and ultimately very enjoyable.

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  • Dave Loney

    Ok, here’s the deal. I am a passionate supporter of the Foos (&dave in particular). I know all seven albums very well. I am a drummer, and have been thoroughly inspired by Daves beats in his various musical outfits. And I think Dave is simply a tremendous individual and role model for so many people. He seems like such a good guy, and willing to poke fun at the circus that is the music industry. “wasting light” could well be my personal favorite album by this band. I think the addition of Pat Smear is a positive one, and having watched the dock “back & forth”, I think Dave has done well to select his band members considering his successful musical baggage from Nirvana.
    Upon first listen to “wasting light”, to be honest I was disappointed. I so wanted it to be another “color and the shape”, an album which inspired (and inspires) me greatly. Yet, in my disappointment, “wasting light” still sounded good. Polished, true, and full. So then I thought, “is this an album which may require repeat listening”? The answer is yes. Some albums are like that. Some are instant classics, and some are classics upon repeat usage. I can’t fault a single song off the album. Even my least favourite, “miss the misery”, had become one of my faves. “a matter of time”, listened through good headphones, is the biggest and most inspirational energy boost I can have legally. I’m not going to review every song, but all I can say is that when I hear the Foos play the chorus of “bridge burning” live, it will be a moment of witnessing a true musical legend at the top of his powers.
    Above all, the album makes me feel good. And that is the highest compliment I can pay to anyone.
    Thankyou, mighty Foo fighters.

  • Hil

    “I’m Loney, so Loney”

    I’m with you JJ – Foos really doing it for me these days, even if Dave Grohl is a bit of a rock magpie (White Limo is real Nick Oliveri-era Queens). More cock rock please.