On Echoes, Silence, Patience, & Grace, the Foo Fighters were tracing a clear evolutionary path that started on In Your Honour‘s acoustic disc – they were starting to blend a softer, acoustic side into their rock songwriting, creating a dynamic, mature record that they hadn’t come close to before. Fast forward four years from that album, a time in which their first Greatest Hits compilation was released, as well as a stint behind the kit in Them Crooked Vultures with Dave Grohl, and we get Wasting Light, the band’s newest offering.
Wasting Light seems to forget the past six years. Having the distinction of being the only album recorded in Dave Grohl’s garage, it sounds like the product of it’s environment. Largely gone is the push and pull, loud and soft dynamic of Echoes, and instead, it’s replaced by a solid 48 minutes of rock. From the get-go, it starts of with a jangling pick-scrape rhythm, before bursting into a powerful guitar riff and Grohl’s scream of “these are my famous last words”. Much of the album follows this pattern, of big distorted guitars and intense vocals, and even when it calms down for a moment, it settles comfortably into the niche Grohl created on There Is Nothing Left to Lose – well-crafted, mid-tempo rock songs destined for the radio.
And while this is the best rock they’ve played since The Color and the Shape, I can’t help but feel like it’s a step back. Echoes demonstrated that they have the potential to be something else besides the biggest alternative arena rock band out there, by putting Dave in what I think is his best environment – an acoustic one. But despite that, I can’t be too disappointed. This is one of the most solid albums the band has written in a good while, avoiding the confused and muddled sound of One by One and the bombast of In Your Honour‘s rock side. It sounds like how it was recorded, by a bunch of friends hanging out in a garage, playing music together. It’s fun, natural, and doesn’t demand much of the listener. Each of the songs is built to get stuck in your head, without resorting to over-the-top hooks or the cliched sound of many modern rock bands. It may be a step off of the path they were originally forging before their break, but it’s deliciously Foo in every way, and fires on all cylinders.