On the Record: “Wasting Light” by the Foo Fighters

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April 25, 2011

10:36 PM

“Truth ain’t gonna change the way you lie, / Youth ain’t gonna change the way you die.” The chorus from the Foo Fighters’s “Dear Rosemary” epitomizes the current of loss and regret that runs through their newest full-length release, “Wasting Light.”

The album has earned the group their first visit to the top of the Billboard 200 chart, with 235,000 copies sold within the first week of its release.

Dave Grohl, the band’s frontman and creative force, retains the same formula that brought the Foo Fighters tremendous mainstream success in the past. The songs are heavy and fast, driven by Grohl’s growling vocals and chugging guitar lines.

“Bridge Burning,” a gut punch of an opener, complete with soaring harmonies, drums rolls and an intricate minor chord progression, is indicative of the songs to come. The next two tracks, “Rope” and “Dear Rosemary,” drip with nostalgia and lost love. As of April 24, the former held the No. 1 spot on both the Rock and Alternative charts, as well as the 68th position on the Billboard Hot 100.

As a whole, “Wasting Light” barrels ahead at full speed, with mixed results. “White Limo” comes off as a mediocre Queens of the Stone Age imitation, while “Miss the Misery” simply rehashes the album’s earlier themes. Many of the other songs here are enjoyable but are too similar to the Foo Fighters’s earlier works, particularly “One by One.”

“Arlandria,” “These Days” and “I Should Have Known” are standouts. In the first, we find Grohl earnestly addressing his Virginia hometown, bellowing, “You are not me, Arlandria, Arlandria. / You and what army, Arlandria, Arlandria?” “These Days,” by far the catchiest song on the album, follows in the same vein, disguising heartbreak with a summery melody. “I Should Have Known” fuses bluesy production, orchestral string crescendos and grungy guitars to produce the most unique experiment on the album.

Grohl is perhaps the only true rock god of the 21st century, or at least the most prolific one. Since their self-titled debut in 1995, the Foo Fighters have continuously pumped out singles that garner both critical and public acclaim. Although no track on “Wasting Light” has the singability of “Learn to Fly” or packs the punch of “Monkey Wrench,” the album is sure to produce a number of hits.

What “Wasting Light” lacks in inventiveness it makes up for in tight presentation and electric instrumentation. Grohl’s urgent delivery is matched by the impressive and energetic skills of his backing band, creating intellectual pump-up music. The band formed over a decade ago from the wreckage of Nirvana, and it’s now bigger than ever, as reflected by this anthemic seventh release.

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