Review Summary: With Chris Shifflet joining the Foo's comes some great guitar work and talent, but filling up a whole album with distoration and heavy riffs doesn't really work for me.
One By One by Foo Fighters
When this CD came out I was totally into the pop-punk rock circle, circling from Green Day to grunge favourites Nirvana. For me, this was the CD that defined rock music for me. I was really into Nirvana for quite some time, but the heaviness and the depressing sound was taking its toll on me. I needed something more easily chewed but without the music losing its intensity. Then suddenly this bad boy struck down from clear skies. One By One was the anticipated follow-up to what would become my personal favourite Foo album, There Is Nothing Left To Lose. Right from the start this album sets the tone. “All My Life” is a splendid and complete rock song, similarities to “Stacked Actors” may be many but the later one mentioned had a more alternative touch according to me. “All My Life” works really well as an album opener, it’s fast and furious and Dave Grohl gets to use to put his grunge-growling vocals to good use. Its mixture between slower muted parts with explosive hard rock greatness is a great recipe.
Other songs don’t work all too well though. “Low” weights in as the weakest link in the chain. Mostly because of the weak and extremely repetive chorus with uninspired backup vocals. “Have It All” is a nice change of scenery, relying almost entirely on Chris Shifletts well played guitar hooks as well as some neat vocals by Dave. Most known single “Times Like These” may not be nothing out of the ordinary; it’s a simple but yet effective rock tune. Like most of the lyrics up to this point, the ones on “Times Like These” seems like some kind of meaningless drivel but at least they sound good. Once again, this song gets its greatness from amazing guitar work.
"Disenchanted Lullaby" is the first real slow track on the album. Picking guitars, whispering vocals and back to the rock at the chorus. Once again, the lyrics’ feels pointless, especially when they once again are outshone by the guitar work. “Tired Of You” is a tuned down, muted story. Some might be dissing this song claiming it to not have enough content but for the first time on the record Grohl’s song writing shows his usually great standard. It’s a great mellow song. Following is another great song, “Halo”. Although very much more upbeat then the previous one it still has a softer undertone. The lack of distortion and great vocals where once again Dave gets to show off his song writing is an excellent move. Verses are probably the greatest parts of the album, while the chorus falls back a little into the usual rock-stylish way they have used on almost all songs up to this point.
“Lonely As You” also starts of softer than most of the songs on “One By One”. Still, the sound can be recognized quite fast again. What hits me the most when listening to this song is the overproducing. Dave’s voice sound way too produced during the verses, the echo effects and overall sound of the song is a bit to average. Luckily, “Overdrive” follows. Even though it uses a lot of sound effects the song itself is really good. The guitar-effects sound cool as well as Dave’s voice. It’s nothing really fancy, but its better then most of the average rock songs on this album. “Burn Away” got a dirty rock sound, unlike most of the songs on the CD which usually uses a clean sound. Sadly it doesn’t make this song very good. Overall it’s one of the weakest Foo songs ever made, it only got one good point and that’s the ending part of the chorus. Last but not least is “Come Back”, a 7:49 minutes long rock song. The guitars have a more produced sound here but the dirty sound from the previous track is still preserved. Verses are very weak and even though the chorus is very repetive with Dave screaming “I will come back” a bunch of times it's still quite appealing. After about half the song it switches into an instrumental acoustic part which is one of the greatest parts of the album. It turns up again into the rocky chorus and then fades, concluding the album.
While I was very fond of this album from the start their other releases clearly leave “One By One” behind them in a cloud of dust. The songs are mostly generic, alike sounding and overproduced. It’s like “Colour And The Shape” but without the emotional touch and mind blowing melodic sound. Most of it drowns in screams or distortion. While I still consider Dave Grohl to be one of my favourite lyricists (and vocalist for that matter) “One By One” is a huge leap back from his usual standards. On the other hand, it contains some really neat rock tunes like “All My Life”, “Times Like These”, “Halo” and “Overdrive”.