Like his late, former bandmate Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl is sometimes referred to (by fawning journalists) as a guy who can/will save rock.
What’s rock anyway? The style of it that Grohl and his band, the Foo Fighters play could be forcibly lumped into a few sub-genres. In the heyday of rock (1950s to ‘70s) the Foo Fighters might have been considered heavy metal, so what’s he saving anyway?
Multi-tasking frontman Grohl is similar to a famous name from rock’s classic period, Eric Clapton.
Like Clapton, Grohl, when playing on other people’s albums as an instrumentalist can do no wrong. As a frontman, it’s a different story with hot and cold results.
On album #7, Wasting Light, the Foos bask in high-energy riff rock and busy arrangements that are well crafted with a storm of power chords – chugga-chugga style.
The bulk of the album is performance-centred: a full blast of testosterone driven bluster on the edge of macho.
From Bridge Burning onward, Wasting Light is an album that’s made for long-night drives where the bludgeoning songs keep adrenaline flowing. Envisioning a Foo concert is easy under the influence of this recording –– lots of blur and spectacle.
But those qualities also cause the CD to falter. The arrangements are crowded and over-similar from song to song as is Grohl’s gravel-throat vocal attack.
While admirably “on” and hooked up, the band could use some swagger and space to alter the atmosphere –– after several songs, you can’t tell where the album is going. A lack of depth becomes apparent when faced with material that focuses mainly on the jugular.
As in their past, Grohl and the Foos are most compelling and original on the moments when they let up on the full throttle and tap into moodier material like the expressive tracks, Rope, Dear Rosemary and Miss the Missy.
–– Dean Gordon-Smith is the music reviewer for The Morning Star. His column appears every Friday.