Review Summary: The Foo Fighters predominantly succeed in consolidating their previous Double Album into one disc by highlighting their melodic nature in amongst hard rock, soft rock, balladry & a little bit of folksiness.
Thinking back upon the Foo Fighters career, I came upon a realization… When they (or their record company) finally release a ‘Greatest Hits’ package, it is going to be one hell of a disc. You see, the band has arguably been responsible for some of the greatest rock songs of the past 15 years. But when it comes to their individual albums, it is rare to see overly positive reviews. This is mainly due to a lack of depth on each release. Their 2nd effort (1997’s ‘The Colour and The Shape’) probably comes closest to the mark, but the weakness really hit home when ‘One By One’ was released in 2002.
Sometimes you need a kick in the backside to rejuvenate yourself and this was obviously what The Foo Fighters did upon release of their 5th album ‘In Your Honor’. Splitting 2 discs up amongst rock and acoustic tracks, this was at worst an album which provided excellent value, not to mention some very good songs. With their 6th album ‘Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace’, The Foo Fighters have understandably attempted to consolidate their two disc effort into one, hopefully resulting in a “Best Of Both Worlds” approach that included less filler. To a large extent, they have succeeded.
The meshing of song styles can practically be heard in the first 30 seconds of this album. Continuing a pet hate of mine of having an album’s best track and 1st single as the opener, ‘The Pretender’ was quite simply my song of 2007. In a decade’s time, when someone asks what rock music was like back in 2007, look no further than this gem of a song. Cleverly beginning softly with lead singer Dave Grohl almost begging you to listen to him while a guitar is gently strummed in the background, the track doesn’t take long for an intense rapid-fire drumbeat to show you where it is heading. The remainder of the song is near-perfect. From the music to the vocals, the verses to the sing-along chorus, it’s difficult to imagine any improvements.
As with practically every other release by the band, they have no issue filling in the first 4 tracks with quality. ‘Let It Die’ complements the opener very well as it takes the quiet/loud structure further and is all the better for it. But it doesn’t just rely on that (for want of a better word) gimmick as it has enough substance behind it to make it work any which way. ‘Erase/Replace’ is a sufficiently solid rocker with enough intensity to get it by, while 2nd single ‘Long Road To Ruin’ is another of the band’s long line of melodic radio-rock tracks in the same vein as ‘Learn To Fly’ & ‘Times Like These’ from their back catalogue.
The remaining 8 tracks are what this album will ultimately be judged by. It’s a mixed bag, but there are thankfully more hits than misses. If anything, the underlying feeling that there is a certain formula that the band is working to is a concern. But there is sufficient variation included and the tracks are placed well for the most part. Misses include the overlong and anti-climactic ‘Come Alive’, the instrumental interlude ‘Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners’, the closing slow-motion piano-driven ‘Home’, and the dated ‘Statues’ (although the latter’s melody may win some over).
If listeners are willing to be patient though, there are some winners amongst the lot. ‘Stranger Things Have Happened’ is an acoustic driven song that may not win you over upon first listen, but has the ability to get caught in your head uncharacteristically for such a slower-paced track. ‘Cheer Up Boys (Your Make-Up is Running)’ is another sufficient rocker even if it could have been a potential highlight with a little more refinement. While penultimate track ‘But Honestly’ is another successful quiet/loud structured song that is a little more difficult to read than usual and pleasantly uses backing vocals well.
Finally, we have track 8 ‘Summers End’ which may well be the song that helps define the album and ultimately is it’s barometer. Part rock ballad, it includes a folky southern Americana feel to it that accentuates its melodic nature to the utmost. It’s sweet… It’s nice… It’s difficult not seeing this being a future single, but I can understand why it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
‘Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace’ is unlikely to be anyone’s album of the year (except maybe the Grammy Awards). Overall though, it is the successful next step in redefining the Foo Fighters current and future sound. That is to highlight the melodic nature of the entire band, while attempting to incorporate a little bit of this, that & the other… Namely hard rock, soft rock, balladry and a little bit of folksiness for good measure. In the hands of a lesser band, the result could have been a horrible hotchpotch. But in the hands of seasoned professionals like the Foo Fighters, it is an enjoyable and ultimately successful album that is very much worth a listen.
Recommended Tracks: The Pretender, Long Road To Ruin, Summers End & Let It Die.