Review Summary: We knew they could do it!4 of 4 thought this review was well written
I've never been completely convinced by Foo Fighters as a great band. This statement, apart from cheerfully inviting angry and shocked responses, is mainly due to the fact that I haven't enjoyed a single one of their albums AS AN ALBUM. 'Everlong' is one of my favourite songs by any band; I never fail to sing along far too enthusiastically to 'The Pretender'; 'Best of You' is a great rock song; I could go on, because Foo Fighters have produced several excellent tracks. However, when listening to their albums, it has always been difficult to shake the feeling that the band had written one or two hit songs, been satisfied, and then recorded some other music in a hurry to fill up the album. Dave Grohl's been involved in a number of very important rock bands, including Nirvana
, Queens of the Stone Age
and Nine Inch Nails
, so let's set the bar high. When you look at the track listing on an album like 'Joshua Tree' by U2
, all the way from 'Where the Streets Have No Name' through to 'Mothers of the Disappeared' there isn't a single song that could be picked out and denounced as mere filler. That isn't something you can say about any of Foo Fighters' albums. To be perfectly honest, the only one I've gone to the trouble of buying is their 'Greatest Hits' album, and that's because I don't want to have to listen to 'February Stars' on their 'The Colour and the Shape' record before 'Everlong' comes on. It's not that it's a bad song, and that's not something I'd say about any of the album tracks - it's just that we know they can do better; and this time, maybe they have.
The first five songs on 'Wasting Light' are all exactly what we've come to love about Foo Fighters. They haven't changed the formula for their music, they've just used that formula more often in the album. When Dave Grohl announces with gusto at the beginning of 'Bridge Burning', 'These are my famous last words!', we get the hint that we're in for something special, and we are not disappointed. The first half of the album is high-octane, singing-along-at-the-top-of-your-voice stuff, with hard-hitting riffs aplenty. Once this has been established, 'These Days' provides something of a breather for the listener, and is a slight departure from the 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'-esque choruses which run on at a high pace with barely a pause for breath. Of course we all love those choruses, but 'These Days' is a good, slightly slower, more melody-centric track which complements the breathless excitement of the song it follows, 'Arlandria'.
The album, thereafter, does seem to realize somewhat that it's nearly finished, and wants to get on to a big conclusion; 'A Matter of Time' is a song that sounds like it should be 'Arlandria', but ends up closer to 'These Days', and that's not a confusion you want happening in the middle of a record. 'Miss the Misery' isn't bad; 'I Should Have Known' is probably the most musically interesting song on the album, comprising mainly with Grohl crooning 'I should have known' through heavy distortion. His first line is 'I should have known it would end this way', and I'm sure that if he had known he had the ability to produce an album like this, he would have made a better record fifteen years ago when the band formed. The album closes in customarily epic fashion; I can readily imagine 'Walk', 'Wasting Light''s final track, becoming an instant classic with fans of Foo Fighters - it's certainly already one of my favourites.
Overall, this is not a ground-breaking album for Foo Fighters, in that they haven't drastically altered their musical style. What they have done is continue to do what they always did best in songs like 'The Pretender', but now they're doing it with unerring, brilliantly entertaining regularity.