thu 21/10/2021

CD: Foo Fighters - Wasting Light | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Foo Fighters - Wasting Light

CD: Foo Fighters - Wasting Light

Dave Grohl and co mine the past more than ever

All of rock is here. Like, really, all of it. One tries to avoid too many direct comparisons with other artists in a review but with Foo Fighters it's impossible. Just on my first casual listen through this album, I jotted down the following reference points: Sonic Youth, Metallica, The Kinks, Bryan Adams, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Guns N' Roses, Fleetwood Mac, Soundgarden, Marilyn Manson, Queens of the Stone Age, Eighties Ozzy Osbourne, Wings, Foreigner, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Pixies. Oh OK, yes, and a little Nirvana too. It's as if five decades of rock – and, note well, only rock – music has been telescoped down into each track, without regard for any notion of timeliness or cool whatsoever, just the desire to turn it up to 11 and get every man, woman and child on the planet chanting along and pumping their fists.

And, pretty much, it works and works well. Dave Grohl and his crew are faultless musicians, and on every track deliver the big riffs and air-punching melodies with no sign that entering their forties is slowing them down – the interlocking of their playing is sometimes quite startling in its natural cleverness, but any complexity is never allowed to detract from the sheer thundering drive of the music. When they go in hard, as on "White Limo", they prove they can match the hairiest, sweatiest, dumbest metal band for propulsive power and hollering rage. But they're happy, too, allowing more considered elements in as with the classic psychedelic folk-rock melody of "Rosemary" that could have come from a lost Jefferson Airplane song (sorry, yes, another comparison) - although this too is nailed to demolition-derby riffing.

Watch Foo Fighters' "White Limo" video featuring Motörhead's Lemmy

Amazingly, given all the precursors that are crammed into it, it manages to sound cohesive and even modern. Actually, it's this modernity that is the greatest problem here: the very 21st-century production pushes everything in the mix outwards towards LOUD, LOUD and LOUD, without any of the awkward dynamics that made earlier bands' recordings so idiosyncratic; combined with the slick excellence of the Foos' playing, and this sometimes makes me yearn for something more fallible, more uneven. But these are niggles really, you can't argue with the sound of this record, any more than you could a Sherman tank. What is clearer than anything else is that these are people who just really, really love rock music, and want to do it very well indeed. Originality and innovation are splendid things, but when something is done with this much love and brio, who needs them? Like the shark or the crocodile, the Foo Fighters' encapsulation of the totality of rock seems to have found an unassailable evolutionary niche – why should it change?

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters