First, let’s get this point across. Is Wasting Light the BEST Foo Fighters album ever? NO. Not even close actually, in fact I’d rank it probably around 5 or 6 out of the 7. It’s not their strongest lyrically nor musically. However, it is by no means a BAD record. What this album is, is a consistent Foo Fighters album. And by that I mean, it’s a plain and simple modern rock album. It’s proof that given the 17 years that this band been together, it still hasn’t turned to the gimmicks of computerized voices, larger than life solos, and tech tricks to lure in the new generation like many aging bands do, instead they brought out high energy, high volume, pop-worthy arena rock, just as they’ve been doing for years.
Wasting Light is mix of the energy that Foo Fighters has put into its most recent albums, and the style that marked their claim to fame in earlier albums. In a way, it’s like a compilation of their sound or a timeline album where you can pick out certain album styles. Take the screamer track “White Limo” for example, it a straight up style-copy of “Weenie Beenie” or “Wattershed” from their debut album. “Back and Forth” and “Matter of Time” bookmark the more pop-pleasing tunes familiar with Nothing Left To Lose. The same goes for the “super-rock” jams like “Rope”, “Bridge Burning”, and “Arlandria”, explosive in energy, but songs that could have fit on One by One or In Your Honor. What I’m saying is, it’s nothing we haven’t heard from the band before. It’s not like Dave Grohl and Co. are all of a sudden trying to be something that they are not.
What is severely lacking from this album is that fierce creative ambition that we’ve come to expect from the Foos. The lyrics on this album, are pretty predictable, the hook in “Arlandria”… straight out of the children’s poem “Rain Rain Go Away”. There are a lot of trite expressions that make up these songs, that remind me of listening to Liz Phair’s “Why Can’t I?”. Where’s the creativity? Where’s that big statment? Well, I suppose the message is there, it’s just obvious instead of a riddle. In their quest to bring things ‘back to the basics’ (recording in Dave’s garage, promo concerts in fans’ garages, recording on analog tape), the band members seem to have forgotten that you still have people something new and better than the last.
In terms of sound, well of course the album sounds great. Nevermind producer Butch Vig rose to the occasion. And something has to be said for the band not putting a single ballad on the album, pretty ambitious for an aging rock band, you can’t call the album a sleeper. Although I wish there was a little more challenge to this album, I also kind of enjoy that it’s just an album. It’s something to enjoy listening to in your car…loudly. And after all the rocking Foo Fighters has done in the past 17 years, it’s humanizing to know that the band is actually capable of something semi-mediocre. I’m still a fan.
[PS: For all the disappointed fans out there, keep the less than desirable comments coming, this band has a history of actually listening to their fans, so it’s a safe bet that if you aren’t happy, they will probably take that into consideration when they go to work on album number eight.]