Review Summary: No filler, but could use just a little more killer.
All Foo Fighters albums, at least those released in the 21st century, were similar in one respect: they had some hits, some good songs, and some mediocre-to-average tracks; only the proportions tended to change. The formula worked, as the band managed to solidify their position among top mainstream rock acts, though one could argue that the Foos found their comfort zone and were reluctant to leave it. Thankfully, their newest album proves to be the welcome game changer.
This, however, may not be immediately transparent. Foo Fighters may have recorded this album in Grohl's garage, relying exclusively on analog equipment, but it would be hard to hear it in the songs themselves. Butch Vig's production, just as expected, makes the record bizarrely accessible even in its most brutal moments. Still, there is a fine line between Wasting Light
and its predecessors: it's tighter, it hits more often, and is overall more focused than usual when it comes to this band. There are no acoustic ballads, no calm instrumentals, and, most important of all, little to no filler: what we get instead is a textbook rock album.
The no-nonsense attitude becomes obvious immediately, just within the first forty-five seconds of “Bridge Burning”. As three guitars start playing one by one to be followed by absolutely vicious drums, and the whole thing finally reaches climax with Grohl's wild scream, we know we're in for one hell of a ride. The following songs, though ripe with more subdued sections, see Foo Fighters doing what they do best: rocking out. Each track brings something to the table: “Rope” has the simple, yet overwhelmingly catchy main riff and a blistering solo; “Dear Rosemary” sees Grohl sharing vocal duties with Husker Du's Bob Mould; “White Limo” features some absurdly distorted shouts throughout, reminiscent of “Weenie Beenie”...
The list goes on, and the album remains consistently solid throughout its 11-song span. Other highlights include the two final songs: a surprisingly upbeat “Walk”, and its polar opposite, “I Should Have Known”. The latter sticks out from the bunch, as it deviates from the straight rock formula with its violins, accordions and whatnot; and, thanks to truly agonizing vocals and amazing instrumental crescendos, it succeeds as the emotional centerpiece to the album.
At the same time it presents us with the biggest problem concerning Wasting Light
: the record could definitely use some variety. Even though the middle section consists of bona fide rockers, they inevitably start to blend together, in a bad way. Different tempos and interesting riffs keep everything from dragging, but all in all the listener is left yearning for some spice... and hits. Of all the singles released so far, only “Rope” is on the level of the biggest Foos classics. The band seemingly traded moments of mainstream brilliance for consistency, for better or worse.
Still, if one is up for some fun, flat-out rock album, in this category it rarely gets as good as Wasting Light
. Every second of the record shows Grohl & co. as fully-formed musicians, professional to the core, and at the same time able to enjoy themselves as much as possible. If Foo Fighters ever actually lost their mojo, this album is where they regain it. Go, limo.