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Foo Fighters - Wasting Light

Ben Patashnik
Ben Patashnik 1 April 2011 at 09.39

Foo Fighters - Wasting Light Cover

If it took them going back to their roots to make an album this good then so be it.

It’d be very easy to over-analyse the Foo Fighters’ seventh album, but that would annihilate the point. Granted, it’s certainly interesting that the band enlisted the production services of one Butch Vig 20 years after he worked on ‘Nevermind’, as is the fact another Nirvana alumnus, Krist Novoselic, also appears on the record. And it’s also interesting that, rather than using their state-of-the-art recording hub Studio 606, they instead bunkered down in Grohl’s own garage with stacks of analogue gear, as is the fact that this is the first time former Germ Pat Smear has been considered a full-time Foo since 97’s ‘The Colour And The Shape’. But 35 seconds into opener ‘Bridges Burning’, as Grohl screams “These are my famous last WOOOOORDS!” with the pissed-off ferocity of a lion who can’t find his phone, it becomes clear that interesting has no place here: this shit simply rocks. Moreover, it’s to their credit that while the above factors certainly contribute to the idea of a band rejuvenated, the guest appearances are tastefully muted and the production so rich and warm that it’s the songs themselves that are foregrounded rather than the story behind them. And what songs they are: it’s been a long time since the Foos have put out an album of such consistently brilliant songs, rather than the single-focused ‘Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace’, or the bravely sprawling ‘In Your Honor’. Song-for-song it’s even arguable that ‘Wasting Light’ is the match of ‘The Colour…’ both in terms of range (all corners of the rock spectrum are covered so well that while the pace drops the quality never does) and rawness. So there’s an all-out thrasher like ‘White Limo’ next to ‘Dear Rosemary’, a duet with Hüsker Dü legend Bob Mould, and an old-fashioned torch song like ‘These Days’ feeds into the riffy ‘Back & Forth’ without jarring at all. And as punchy as these garage-born tunes are – there’s a warmth and richness to ‘Wasting Light’ that means you can practically feel the air moving around the room in which it was recorded – make no mistake, they’re going to sound phenomenal hammering out of Milton Keynes’ atomic PA in July. The likes of ‘Rope’ and ‘Arlandria’ in particular have enough blood and guts to them to sit perfectly between being wave-your-pints-in-the-airlike-you-just-don’t-care festival anthems and feeling brilliantly energising when played loud on scratchy headphones. And when Grohl repeats “I never wanna die! I never wanna die!” on ‘Walk’ that simple statement could essentially be the subtitle for ‘Wasting Light’ – when rock music is played as confi dently and fluidly as this there really is no reason to turn it off. The Foo Fighters may have ballooned in size over the past few years and if it took them going back to their roots to make an album this good then so be it, but when all is said and done ‘Wasting Light’ is as an example of how to be a globe-eatingly massive band and still sound young, hungry and, above all, important.

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