Foo Fighters
Wasting Light


3.5
great

Review

by Nick Butler EMERITUS
April 7th, 2011 | 532 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: No filler! Finally, it's the album the Foos always had in them.

It's tough for old dogs to learn new tricks, particularly ones as long in the tooth and weather-beaten (not to mention successful) as Dave Grohl. He's happy and polite enough in interviews to seem youthful, but let's not lose sight of the fact that between Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Probot, Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures, and lesser-known projects like Dain Bramage, Mission Impossible, Scream, and The Backbeat Band, this is the 21st studio album Grohl has been a major part of in his 42 years (and that's just a rough count - I've probably missed a couple). That doesn't include collaborations or live albums either. To get some perspective on that, U2 have only released 12 studio albums, and spring chickens The Eagles have only released 7.

You would expect somebody that's been involved in so many projects with so many different people all exerting some kind of influence on him (there are certainly worse people to hang around with than Kurt Cobain, Josh Homme, Mark Lanegan, and John Paul Jones) that his primary project would take in a fairly broad range of ideas and influences, but instead, narrowness has always been the biggest flaw that the Foos suffer from. With the exception of the acoustic second disc of In Your Honour - which remains their finest single CD and grossly overlooked in most discussions of the band - you know exactly what to expect from any one of their albums. That's why, despite a string of very fine singles, they've never managed a good album.

Until now. Wasting Light isn't a masterpiece, nor does it see Grohl really reinventing the wheel as far as the band's sound goes, but it's clearly painted from a broader pallette of colours and it's clearly their first consistently good set of songs.

Crucially, it sounds like Grohl has started to learn from his collaborators. "Bridge Burning" and the decidedly Probot-esque "White Limo" are both noticeably heavier than anything they've conjured before besides "Low", which, fittingly enough, was both complimented and derided for sounding so much like Queens of the Stone Age. He's reaching into rock history more too, perhaps as a result of his affiliation with John Paul Jones - "Dear Rosemary" rides a riff that's could just as easily have been written by The Kinks as Jack White (truth be told, it's a whisker away from being a shameless rip-off of "Steady As She Goes" by The Raconteurs, but it's forgiveable). And then there's "Arlandria", which opens up a hithero unexpected chicken/egg scenario between the Foos and Biffy Clyro. These five tracks makes for a startling opening to the album. It honestly feels like this is the kind of music that Foo Fighters should have been making all along - the newfound heaviness really suits them, making a mockery in the process of softer, awkwardly performed tracks like "Learn to Fly" and "Big Me".

The second half doesn't quite hold up the standard, sadly, but it's certainly still got its moments - "These Days" is melodically Beatles-esque, and "I Should Have Known" is a spooked, sweeping, string-laden ballad with a psychedelic edge that you suspect they wouldn't have been brave enough to attempt on any of their previous albums. "Walk" is fine enough too, even though it has a slight whiff of obligation about it, as if it was written purely to tick the box marked 'epic album closer'.

A couple of songs late on in the album aren't that great ("A Matter of Time" doesn't feel like it really knows what it's doing structurally, starting out like The Cars before turning into Rocket From the Crpyt for 8 bars before a Springsteen-esque chorus), but any disappointment with that is tempered by remembering all the filler from their previous albums, all the likes of "Statues" and "Aurora" and "My Poor Brain" and "Enough Space" and "Resolve", and acknowledging that everything on here is better than that. A Foo Fighters album without filler? I never thought I'd see the day.



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user ratings (1638)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Sanders
April 7th 2011


2361 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review Nick, although I guess you mean "Learn To Fly", rather than "Learning To Fly".

Really digging this album, although every time I hear "Dear Rosemary", I get "Steady As She Goes" stuck in my head for hours...



tripleb2k
April 7th 2011


217 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good Review!
BUT the summary doesn't fit the score. Can't say the album has no filler but only give it a 3.5. That just doesn't work.
Aside from that small issue, good job.

Iai
Emeritus
April 7th 2011


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

3.5 means 'great'. It says so right under the rating. 4 would be excellent, which this clearly
isn't.

vakuola
April 7th 2011


276 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Review is great, and yes, a few songs are a little weak, still, this ain't a 3.5 imo

porch
April 7th 2011


8460 Comments


is it so difficult for you guys to understand that 3.5 is a positive rating

anyway i still think the self titled is the only worthwhile foo fighters record. definitely has less
filler and better songwriting than anything grohl has done since

jamiecoughlan
April 7th 2011


87 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Aurora and Resolve are great songs! but interesting review and well written. might give this a listen but I've been going off the foos for years.

conradtao
Emeritus
April 7th 2011


2090 Comments


"this aint a 3.5 imo"

>rating: 4

hahahahahahahahahaha ok

KeithStone582
April 7th 2011


1480 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I like the review, but it probably should be scored higher.

conradtao
Emeritus
April 7th 2011


2090 Comments


when people are arguing over a rating like it actually matters instead of discussing the review

good review, nick, but I've never liked these guys

LepreCon
April 7th 2011


4152 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Fucking awesome album is fucking awesome

Masochist
April 7th 2011


8083 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"...but it's clearly painted from a broader pallette of colours..."


Sold me right there.

vakuola
April 7th 2011


276 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I meant it deserves a higher rating, my bad.

Yuma310
April 7th 2011


1656 Comments


I will need to check this album out

guitarnater
April 7th 2011


917 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Good review. Glad to see that the Foos aren't relying solely on singles as they usually do.

StewartQuinn
April 7th 2011


2 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Love the band. Love the album.

I thought the review was well written and I respect any level headed opinions. But obviously everyone is going to feel different about this album depending on how much of a Foo Fighter fan you are.

rjmunthe
April 8th 2011


395 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The Colour and the Shape was a great album so I stopped reading after you said they've never released a good album.

ShutTheFookinUven
April 8th 2011


81 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

WHat I liked about this review was that you stepped back and looked at the album from a broader stance and compared using specific examples from their other albums. It gave you a sense of concreteness. Because of that, I can't argue with anything you say about the album.

I guess something I took away from reading this album is that there is an acceptable range in which albums' ratings should exist, and anything outside of that range is irrational.

for me that range is 3.5-4.5 on this album... objectively, it does too many things right to warrant anything lower than that.



ShutTheFookinUven
April 8th 2011


81 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

A funny observation: Rjmunthe said that the coulour and shape was a great album.

by the logic of our staff reviewer doesn't that mean you should have it as a 3.5 and not a 5? lol :P

Awesomesauce
April 8th 2011


1084 Comments


Nice review, I'm totally agreeing with you on this one. Do we really need to have the rating argument again, kids?

vakuola
April 8th 2011


276 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yes.



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