New Foo Fighters proves generic at times

Foo Fighters
Wasted Light
Label (1234)
Grade: ***

by Gillian G. Gaar

Foo Fighters’ first three albums were a great mix of poppy punk, with the occasional moment of thoughtfulness (“Big Me,” “Walking After You”). But from “One By One” on, head Foo Dave Grohl’s concerns of being too “mellow” have led to a tendency for the songs to become more one-dimensional, at the expense of his undeniable vocal and musical versatility.

“White Limo,” for example, proves that Grohl can still shriek like a mountain lion, and yes, it’s fun to listen to. But the album is so saturated with flat-out screaming it ends up becoming tiresome. It’s a heavy handed approach that undermines much of “Wasted Light”; a song’s verses will have a unique character (as in “Rope,” which has a great fluidity in its verses thanks to the shifting harmony lines that add a cool flavor), only to be ruined when the choruses thunder in bombastically.

It’s akin to what Nirvana and other alt-rock bands have done (soft verses, louder choruses), though the end result wasn’t as generic as it is here. You’re left wondering what might have happened to the songs if they’d had a slightly lighter touch; how might the wistful, melancholy “Rosemary” have sounded if not burdened by a barrage of guitars that seem eager to push the core of the song out of the way?

Similarly, “I Should Have Known,” a heartfelt number about a departed friend (which most will read as Kurt Cobain, though Grohl insists it’s another friend), drowns in overwrought angst. It’s great if you’re blessed with the ability to rock out with gusto. But it makes more of an impact if you also remember to take a break now and then.

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