Plenty of ‘Light’ with The Foo Fighters

The Foo Fighters have time and time again proven themselves to be one of the few bands that can operate sustainably on the tight rope of being commercially successful while still maintaining a sense of badass-ness. And, they occupy a unique niche in the modern scene – they’re one of the only bands around today that can (and attempt to) pull off the arena rock sound.

Coming off the heels of a slightly more ballad-esque nature in 2007’s “Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace”, the Foo Fighters decided to make some drastic changes for their next album.

Recorded entirely on analog machines in front man Dave Grohl’s garage, “Wasting Light” is the Foo Fighter’s stripping down to the raw, hard-rock/alternative music from which it spawned.

The band was completely intent on the raw, nuts and bolts rock vibe. To give you an idea, the video for the first single, “Rope”, was recorded on VHS. Even the postproduction was done in Grohl’s house, as the group felt it lost the sound of his garage at other studios.

From their efforts, we reap an album that is a fully fledged sonic attack from beginning to end, as heavy as any Foo Fighters record. However, the band still manages to maintain their infusion of pop melodies that truly give it that heavy-melodic “Foo Fighters” sound.

In the end, what you get is another fantastic Foo Fighters album. There are no crazy left turns or experiments in “Wasting Light”. It’s just pure, straightforward rock: well written, catchy, and just the right amount of crazy. It’s as if the Foo Fighters made an album of some of the most intense moments from their prior works.

There are two things directly noticeable about “Wasting Light” (and what you would expect from the Foo Fighters). The first is that the record takes almost no time to get into – the first tracks instantly capture you. This is a result of the simplicity of their approach to the music. There are no slow, ambient build ups. Everything is thrown at you immediately.

Secondly, the record is extremely solid as a unit. Every song is about as good as the next. Just like any great album, it’s all killer, no filler.

The album grabs you from the very beginning, with a meteoric buildup in the intro of “Bridge Burning”, which leads straight into a screaming Dave Grohl. “Bridge Burning” is a perfect summary of the album – heavy guitars, screams, and fast paced choruses, all enveloped in Grohl’s melodic vocals and harmonies.

The first single, “Rope” bursts forth from its guitar intro into a fantastic Led Zeppelin like groove. Amidst some screams from Dave Grohl, the chorus comes in, as catchy as you would expect, and then the song goes straight back to the equally (if not more so) fetching groove.

Then begins “Dear Rosemary”, quite possibly the catchiest track on the record. Grohl’s melodies and the guitar interplay on the verses ensnare your attention until the monstrously catchy choruses, with jumpy rhythms and chiming tambourines.

The first three songs are great, but that doesn’t take anything away from the rest of the record, which is just as good.
“White Limo” is seething heavy metal song, complete with distorted vocals and sinister guitar riffs. Token hotel  room smashing stuff. And of course, it’s got its hooks as well.

Somewhat of a balance for the craziness of “White Limo”, “I Should Have Known” is the closest thing to a ballad on the album. It’s the only song that’s not in your face from start till finish: it’s only in your face for the last movements.

“Arlandria” and “These Days” are heavy, fast tunes that still maintain a strong sense of that classic Foo Fighter catchiness, with prime sing-a-long potential.

“Back and Forth” is a total Foo Fighter classic, marked by Grohl’s uniquely poppy vocal melodies and heavy riffs, with some moments of craziness here and there. It’s sure to get stuck in your head.

“A Matter of Time” seems to feel a little different. It sounds ever so slightly nostalgic, and a little darker emotionally. Fear not, the intensity and heaviness (as well as catchiness) remain.

“Walk” is the perfect album closer. The track culminates with Grohl ferociously screaming “I never wanna die!”, a grand ending to an immense record.

“Wasting Light” is truly an epic album. From start to finish, the music is heavy, the melodies are catchy, and the choruses are colossal. Dave Grohl and his crew have once more shown that they’re proven songwriters, capable of standing the test of time. The record is a worthy addition to the Foo Fighter’s superb catalog.

Rating: 5/5