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Album Review: Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

It’s as warm as it is unhinged. The Foos show off every aspect of their sound, yielding hard-core metal, snotty garage rock, pop-punk and straight-ahead burners.



Wasting Light is a layered, complex album that is both immediately agreeable and yet withholds its most rewarding facets for repeated listens. On the surface, it’s a boisterous celebration of hook-laden arena rock that sounds like trademark Foo Fighters. Deeper in, it’s a yearning and thoughtful portrait of a band that’s more vital in its 17th year than ever.

Recorded in Dave Grohl’s garage studio — an environment that more ably captures the vibe of the band than any plush studio ever could — Wasting Light is as warm as it is unhinged. The Foos show off every aspect of their sound, yielding hard-core metal, snotty garage rock, pop-punk and straight-ahead burners in pursuit of something that sounds like where they started and where they’ve ascended to all at once.

The first single, “Rope,” is a deceptively simple mid-tempo rocker that outclasses most fellow tunes on modern rock playlists by revealing itself slowly but surely. There aren’t many major rock bands with the cajones to put out a song that takes a while to grow on the average listener, but Foo Fighters aren’t the typical mainstream band. Not by a long stretch.

White Limo” careens wildly into near-screamo territory, shredding Grohl’s throat with a full bore shout over a racing metal track. It’s accessible, yet authentic, bearing out the Foo Fighters’ unmatched versatility.

In other places, Wasting Light approaches Nirvana at its poppy college-rock finest. “Arlandria” is unabashedly catchy, but buzzes with the edge of a lost 120 Minutes classic. “Back and Forth,” the hookiest tune in the bunch, is either spoiling for a fight or (at least) begging for better communication.

The Foos are also known for their ability to take the intensity down a few notches and deliver wrenching slower fare. “Walk” is this album’s best example of their more emotional work, coming off as a passionate autobiographical snapshot rather than the inspirational theme music it’s destined to become in popular culture. There’s a tear in Grohl’s voice when he sings “I think I lost my way” in the opening verse, his delivery gaining strength through the song before building to the powerfully-confident crescendo “I never wanna die.” It’s a fittingly poignant place to end the most compelling album of the band’s career.

Through sheer strength of will and artistic integrity, the Foo Fighters have – once and for all – rendered the “underrated” label they’ve always been anchored with irrelevant. Their place in rock history be damned; this is a band that knows who they are and, with Wasting light, have delivered their finest work to date.

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