What do you do after playing at Wembley to 86,000 people?
You make a record in your garage of course. And do a fuckin’ good job of it.
After reaching this absolute pinnacle of rock n’ roll stardom- not to mention a performance with Paul McCartney at the 2009 Grammys and a side project with Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones- you might have been forgiven for thinking that the Foo Fighters had nothing left to give. Yet, out of Dave Grohl’s San Fernando Valley garage comes a refreshing step back to the band at their greatest and truest, and one of their best records yet.
Wasting Light, released in stores on April 12, heralds the fully-fledged return of stalwart guitarist Pat Smear and is overseen by Nevermind producer Butch Vig. Fortunately however, the record is far from Cobain-esque, nineties grunge nostalgia. Rather, as reflected in the Foo’s innovate decision to release the entire eleven tracks free online, Wasting Light seems a relevant, but grown-up product of fifteen years of Foo Fighters history. From the moment Dave screams “These are my famous last words” in the very first line of the emphatic opener, “Broken Bridge,” the listener is treated to an aural smorgasboard of styles guaranteed to leave you simultaneously trembling and singing along.
From the Probot reminiscent metal riffs and dirty whiskey vocals of “White Limo” to the pure-pop groove of “Dear Rosemary,” the rock giants’ monumental seventh album contains enough variety to never let you quite settle in too comfortably. While Grohl ventures slightly toward lulling country ballad territory with “These Days,” the album’s more melodic moments are interjected with timely gravel gargling choruses for good rock n’ roll measure.
With the knee-tappingly catchy “Back and Forth” and feel-good finale in which Grohl sings of “learning to walk again” the gargantuan rock LP remains satisfyingly cohesive by always feeling fundamentally Foos at heart. Unlike its recent predecessors, Wasting Light is rocky enough to satisfy the die-hard elite of “I’ve liked them since forever” fans, but full of the catchy radio-hooks that may well lure in a new generation of followers. After all, when a man can play the triangle at a rock concert (as I saw him do at Vector Arena in 2008) and make it look bad-ass, you know he is timeless.
The famous five-piece have, this year, reasserted themselves as the rock n’ roll nobility of our generation. Somewhat ironically, for an album recorded in a garage, Wasting Light screams quintessential Foo Fighters arena rock. Dave Grohl and his band learnt to fly back in 1999, which is lucky, because in 2011 they’re jumping off a musical cliff with potentially their most audacious album thus far. Yet somehow, it seems more classic Foos than ever.
Daringly deemed by many their best album since The Colour and the Shape, Wasting Light is a must-buy, not just to play in the car, but to put into the stereo and blast the goddamned roof off.
You can listen to the entire album online- here.
Also, they've released a documentary on the making of this album, titled Back and Forth. I'm not sure when (if) it'll be available in New Zealand but it looks pretty damn Grohltastic. You can check out the trailer here.
Also, kudos to Luke for his superb efforts in helping me edit this.