Dave Grohl Saves Rock and Roll, Again
The new Foo Fighters album isn't the rumored radical departure — and that's a good thing.
1. If there's a Mr. Rock and Roll, it's Dave Grohl.
Every year, radio rock is declared dead and then revived, but Dave Grohl is proof that guitars never really left the mainstream in the first place. For the past two decades, all of this man's enthusiasm and energy have been dedicated to the cause (the dude was even all over a Cat Power album — Cat Power!), and this latest effort shows what he's capable of when he focuses all that talent and energy into one single product. It's not breaking any mold — that's not Grohl's style — but it's a strong album from a band you can rely on.
2. Absence makes the heart grow awesomer.
Foo Fighters put out their last three studio albums in a span of five years — an intense feat for an arena-rock act that spends much of the year promoting themselves through international festivals and myriad other major-label obligations. So they definitely deserved the four-year rest between their last album and this one — and if Wasting Light is the product of it, so did fans.
3. We're back to basics here.
The premise is so simple it feels like a gimmick. Put a successful post-Nirvana band in a garage; bring in Nevermind producer (and Garbage drummer) Butch Vig; throw in some legendary underground musicians (Nirvana's Krist Novoselic, Bob Mould of Hüsker fücking Dü); and mix.
4. And mix they did.
Wasting Light is a lot of things at once. Want a metal-y barn-burner? "White Limo," at your service. Looking for that meat-and-potatoes alt-rock from the radio of your youth? Check out "Rope." Want Melvins-style Big Muff sound mixed with Nirvana-esque melody? Put "Back and Forth" on that mixtape. Want an album that's diverse yet seamless? Wasting Light.
Listen: "White Limo"
5. It's not as much as a comeback as it is the essential Foo Fighters album (which is a good thing).
There's a lot of hoopla surrounding the new record, with people calling it a return to form and such. But Foo Fighters never left their form. They've always delivered collections of driving, chorus-loving, radio-friendly-but-good songs, and we loved them for it (or at least should have). Wasting Light simply does it better than its most recent predecessors.
6. That said, don't get too excited about the two-thirds-of-Nirvana reunion.
Novoselic shows up on "I Should Have Known," but don't get the wrong idea. The song itself doesn't overtly suggest Nirvana (nor does it try to). It's just a solid, moody, growling rocker of a song made by two grizzled survivors.
Listen: "I Should Have Known"
7. And some key elements seem to be missing.
Despite former guitarist Pat Smear's return to the band, the album lacks the catchy hooks he brought to their early material, as well as the quiet-loud dynamic that was considered religion in the '90s. There's no "Big Me" or "For All the Cows" here, so you'll have to have dug the band's middle and late material to get behind this album.
8. But whatever minor quibbles you might have, Dave Grohl is rock eternal.
Existential matters are weighing heavy on the mind of the forty-two-year-old Grohl. "One of these days, your heart will stop and play its final beat," he reminds us on "These Days." He puts things a bit more bluntly on "Walking": "I never want to die!" I'm betting that he never actually will, instead becoming the Bagger Vance of rock and roll, always there when we need him most.