First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2011, Volume 18, #7
Written by John Metzger
Tue October 4, 2011, 05:30 AM CDT
Over the course of its career, Foo Fighters has had a rather remarkable run. After all, it isn’t often that a musician is able to jump from being an integral part of a band that was both culturally significant and commercially viable to enjoying an immense amount of success with his own outfit. Yet, Dave Grohl quickly moved past the death of Kurt Cobain, pushing aside his pain by bashing out massive rock ’n‘ roll anthems with Foo Fighters. Granted, the group has yet to assemble anything that matches the brilliance of Nirvana’s Nevermind or In Utero, but no one ever expected that it would. For 16 years, though, Grohl has managed rather skillfully to guide Foo Fighters through a variety of internal and external changes without ever falling flat.
Of course, despite its accomplishments, Foo Fighters often has struggled to strike a balance between the commercial and artistic aspects of its work. Like Nirvana, the band has a knack not only for playing with the dynamics of its arrangements but also for sculpting iridescent melodic structures that are impossible to resist. However, while its albums have contained many terrific songs — from the hard-hitting Monkey Wrench to the Beatle-esque Next Year — they also have frequently failed to feel fully focused, cohesive, and complete. Something always seemed to be holding Foo Fighters back, keeping the group from achieving its objectives.
Only Grohl can truly explain whether or not this was the case, but the prevailing theory — based upon Foo Fighters’ latest set Wasting Light — is that Cobain’s shadow was difficult to escape. Grohl never ran away from his past. However, he never fully embraced it either. Perhaps, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of Nevermind, the time was right for Grohl to step into the darkness and address the ghost that continued to haunt the subconscious spaces of his mind.
While making Wasting Light, Grohl reunited with producer Butch Vig (who produced Nevermind) as well as guitarist Pat Smear (who not only toured with Nirvana during its latter days but also has been an off-again, on-again member of Foo Fighters). He also coaxed his old pal Krist Novoselic out of retirement to play bass and accordion on I Should Have Known. For these reasons, Grohl seems to have turned a corner to the point where he now is inviting comparisons between Foo Fighters and Nirvana.
Wasting Light covers the gamut of everything that Foo Fighters does well — from the taut, Zeppelin-esque charge of Rope and the aggressive fury of White Limo to the anguished soulfulness of I Should Have Known and the dichotomy of peaceful calm and edgy release contained in These Days. Better still, Foo Fighters offers greater balance and depth than it ever has before, and its melodies have never been so relentlessly infectious.
As Wasting Light progresses, it increasingly becomes clear that Grohl approached the making of the album while he was in the midst of wrestling with his past. In particular, the outing’s latter third addresses his frame of mind in the years that have slipped away in the wake of Cobain’s demise. For certain, many of the tracks are generalized enough to be about any relationship, but there also are plenty of moments when Grohl can’t hide his intent, especially given he is flanked by Novoselic, Smear, and Vig. Make no mistake, Wasting Light is neither Nevermind nor In Utero. It is, however, the best album that Foo Fighters has ever assembled.
Of Further Interest...
Wasting Light is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2011 The Music Box