Monday, April 18, 2011

Album Review: Foo Fighters - Wasting Light (4.5/5)

Seven albums deep into their career, American rock band Foo Fighters remain at the pinnacle of fine rock music. On this thrilling set, their sound is as refined, consistent and anthemic as ever. Could this be their best album to date? Well, they haven't rocked out this hard since 2002's much-heralded fourth album One by One which delivered the electrifying, muffled guitar-chugging rock of "Low."

Produced by Bruce Vig, who spearheaded Nirvana's celebrated sophomore album Nevermind, the album highlights effectively the band's love for high-energy, rugged, strenuous rock--instantly demonstrated on opening number "Bridge Burning," insistent sharp, rampant guitar chords layered over accelerating rapid drum-fire with seeping melodic undertones; Dave Gohl's bold, slightly husky vocal relishing in the industrious rock-studded production. Lead single "Rope" follows its energetic suit--bursts of lively rigid electronic guitars with a rapid drum backing.

"Dear Rosemary" is a little tamer, but still packs a pretty spirited punch--ultimately, it's the calm before the harder, more aggressive rocky storm of "White Limo;" showcasing numbing vigorous electronic guitars buried beneath a wall of impulsive heavy-footed drumming and loud distorted screeching. A very invigorating track--venturing into darker rockier (slightly migraine-encouraging) territories. However, reining in the dogmatic guitars is "Arlandria" which illustrates a standard, but still galvanizing layering of guitar melodies and drums. The clamorous chanting before the chorus ("fame fame go away, come again some other day") does successfully discharge that anthemic aura.

"These Days" showcases a more complex range of guitars from, what I think are, electric twelve-string guitars to accompany the tamer verses to the standard blustery electronic guitars for the obligatory hard-hitting chorus, next up is "Back & Forth" which was an instant favorite--chugging guitar chords, that merge into a frenetic start-stop sound before the gusty chorus with a prominent high-energy drum backing where Gohl demands "now show a little backbone why don't you!" The more pop-tinged, compact guitar melodies of "A Matter of Time" is refreshing in the midst of the more cultivated rock, similarly "Miss the Misery" where the album gets its title from, packs a lot of melody, particularly in the chorus but doesn't lays off the overbearing guitaric layering that much.

Towards the end of the album, we arrive at the albums finest moment, the somber, stripped-down rock of "I Should Have Known," layers of hollowing distorted guitars marinating in its melancholic ambiance and the atmospheric backdrop. It features Krist Novoselic, Nirvana bassist. It's tender without venturing into soppy territories. It's a definite highlight. The uplifting progressive, charging rock of "Walk" closes the album on a solid note.

So could this be their best album to date? Wasting Light is way up there with the Foo Fighters past work. It can mingle with One by One just as well as it can rock out with The Colour and the Shape. Packed with hard-hitting, power-rock as well as nurturing some more dispiriting moments. It's an undeniable winner for the band. It's definitely the best rock album of the year so far.

Best: I Should Have Known, Back & Forth, Rope, Bridge Burning, Arlandria, White Limo, Dear Rosemary, These Days

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