Few bands can crank out more memorable guitar hooks than the Foo Fighters. Despite the fact that many of their albums are heavy on filler, all of them still boast a handful of radio-ready classics like “My Hero,” “Everlong” and “The Pretender.” Recent albums have found Dave Grohl and company embracing a mellower side, yet it’s clear that the harder the Foo Fighters rock, the more consistently great the music is. In their new album “Wasting Light,” the band checks all ballads at the door.
The result is a pretty terrific song cycle, which has a higher hit-to-miss ratio than most of the band’s recent discography. In the first 40 seconds of the album opener “Bridge Burning,” Grohl lets out a howl that sends the message loud and clear. With this album, the Foo Fighters are looking to embrace a dirtier, heavier sound that echoes their early work on such albums as their 1995 self-titled debut and 1997’s “The Colour and the Shape.” “White Limo” is an aggressively loud rocker which conceals Grohl’s lyrics beneath layers of heavy guitars and distortion.
This is a rare Foo Fighters’ album which demands a front-to-back listen, as each track seems to offer something new. One can never accuse the band of laziness, but past albums only provided a few songs worth keeping, while the rest could be left on the shelf to gather dust. On “Wasting Light,” every song is important, even if they aren’t consistently brilliant across the board.
“Wasting Light” was produced by Butch Vig, who famously worked with Grohl on the classic Nirvana album “Nevermind.” “Wasting Light” was recorded entirely in Grohl’s garage using only the simplest of equipment, and this unpretentious attitude comes through in the finished product. The music still sounds clean, but it exists without the addition of any extraneous bells and whistles. It’s the sound of a rock band in its purest form.