Foo Fighters: Wasting Light

Key Tracks: “Bridge Burning”, “Rope”, “Arlandria”, “I Should Have Known”,”Walk”
Perfect for listening to while: Driving/Headbanging

Label: RCA

Widge here. Please welcome Chuck Metcalf, half of Chuck vs. Mal, to the site with one of his “Pretentious Music Reviews.” Which means he fits in quite nicely.

While I’m a huge fan of Dave Grohl and his Merry Band of Foo Fighters, they haven’t made it easy for me over the course of the last decade. In 2002 they released One By One, a competent but largely lifeless album that Grohl himself admitted contained only a few songs he was really happy with. Next came 2005’s In Your Honor, a sprawling double album that was split between metallic post-grunge and sleepy acoustic tunes. It was ambitious, but ultimately lacked anything really memorable. 2008’s Echoes, Silence, Patience, & Grace was a bit tighter, but just as forgettable.

To be fair, each record had one or two radio-friendly singles, but earlier albums such as The Colour and the Shape proved that the Foo could keep the momentum going for an entire album. Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting much when I heard that the band was cutting a new album. I remained jaded even after hearing that Butch Vig would produce the record and Krist Novoselic would make a guest appearance. Recording the album in Dave’s garage with analog equipment seemed to be a step in the right direction (There is Nothing Left to Lose was recorded in a similar fashion), but I’d been burned before.

Now that Wasting Light is out, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the Foo for ever doubting them.

Above all else, this is a damn fine sounding album. It’s clear that each song was lovingly crafted to sound the best that it possibly could. The guitars are big and crunchy, the drums sound like they’re being beaten by Thor‘s hammer, and the vocals are strong and clear, but never overpower the pristine instrumentation.

Wasting Light is by far the Foo Fighters’ heaviest album yet and deserves to be played as loud as humanly possible. That being said, it also sounds like a Foo Fighters album throughout. You get what you pay for: melodic pop rock that’s perfect for headbanging and singing along to. (…except for “White Limo”. If you can figure out what the hell the lyrics are, you’re a better man than I.)

Now, if I was judging this album on just production, I’d give it five cups. The actual songs are kind of hit and miss. While songs like “Rope”, “Arlandria”, and “Walk” live up to the Foo’s pop potential, a few of them are a little flat comparatively. I wanted to hear a little less rock and a little more “Learn to Fly”-like levity at certain points, but I’m sure less melodically inclined listeners won’t mind a bit. Either way, the weaker tracks are still stronger than 90% of the band’s songs in the last decade, not to mention most of the songs heard daily on your local Modern Rock station.

Some critics have gone on record as saying that Wasting Light is the best album that the Foo have ever released. I’m not sure if that’s the case, but it is their best effort in nearly twelve years. I’ve always wanted to see them release a spiritual sequel to 1999’s summer afternoon mellowfest, There is Nothing Left to Lose, which I consider their masterpiece. With every record they put out, it becomes more and more clear they’re not interested in revisiting that sound, but if they continue down the same path they took here, I’ll be more than glad to follow.