Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
It’s one of life’s enduring, and annoying, mysteries that Dave Grohl has managed to raise himself to the position as ‘rock god’ with just a bunch of uninspiring rock-by-numbers albums and the odd catchy chorus to his name. By hanging around long enough and aligning himself with two of rock’s greatest of the last two decades (first Kurt and then Josh Homme) he’s become the AC/DC-tshirt wearing brigade’s pre-eminent rock star of choice.
Whether he deserves this status is, of course, a matter of opinion. What is for certain, though, is that the expectations that come with being everyone’s favourite rock stars is taking its toll on Foo Fighters’ music. Now onto their seventh album, the Foo’s show no signs of being able to do anything other than their routine by-the-numbers rock. They even went back to basics to record Wasting Light – setting up shop in Grohl’s garage with Nevermind producer Butch Vig in a bid to at least do something interesting with their formula. But still the result is a tiresomely predictable and uninspiring journey through the Foo’s familiar repertiore of radio-friendly ‘rawk’ riffs and Grohl’s laughable attempts at ‘meaningful’ lyrics.
Lead single ‘Rope’ sees Foo Fighters in exactly the same position they were in 14 years ago, sounding like a slightly slower and less fun version of ‘Monkey Wrench’ – with lyrics that wouldn’t seem out of place in the margins of a sixth formers poetry textbook: “Gimme some rope I’m coming loose / I’m hanging on you.”
‘Dear Rosemary’ has its moments and comes close to anthemic, as does ‘These Days’ and album closer ‘Walk’. But they all have the same problem, in that they’re just, well, boring. We’ve heard it all from Foo’s before and in fact, their celebrated 2007 album Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace did it a whole lot better. Which poses the question: why bother? The obvious answer is that they love their status as the world’s premier ‘stadium rock Gods’ so much that they just can’t help knock out another album primed for those large arenas and massive pyrotechnics. The problem is that they’re in danger of becoming a bit of a parody of themselves – and boring their fickle audience when they inevitably become passé.
All that aside though, lets look at some positives – which can be found amongst the drudgery and tired old rock clichés that characterise Wasting Light. ‘White Limo’ is a welcome slice of Deftones style sonic battery which shows the Foo’s do have something interesting up their tattooed sleeves when they actually try, while ‘Miss The Misery’ rolls back the years with a Metallica-esque dark and brooding riff and 80’s hair metal chorus that, at the very least, is entertaining.
And there-in lies the problem with Foo Fighters. Anything interesting they try to do always seems lifted from better bands. They rode the coat-tails of Nirvana during their early career, and their revival over the last decade was only sparked when Grohl ripped off Queens Of The Stone Age after drumming with them for a bit – and it’s about time people realised that, took them off their pedestal and left them alone so they can have a go at making something different and maybe a little bit interesting.