Dave Grohl formed the Foo Fighters in 1994, just months after the death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain and the ensuing disbandment of the group he had drummed for during its meteoric rise to prominence.
Grohl turned down an offer to play drums for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in order to found the Foo Fighters. Though the decision was risky, it has paid off – Grohl led the Foo Fighters to win three Grammys, sell millions of records and become one of the most successful alternative rock bands in the world.
The Foo Fighters' seventh album, Wasting Light, marks an attempt to return to the sound that originally caused a stir in the music world – that of the band's 1995 self-titled debut. The Foo Fighters recorded Wasting Light in Grohl's garage, hired Butch Vig – producer of Nirvana's Nevermind – to produce, brought former touring member Pat Smear into the studio to play guitar and had former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic guest on a few songs.
The Foo Fighters did everything they could to strip themselves down to their fundamentals. The outcome, however, was not a more refined tune but rather a continuation of the loud, overbearing sound the group has been producing since 1999's There Is Nothing Left to Lose.
"Rope," the record's lead single, sums up the Foo Fighters' new album entirely: It is loud, repetitious and catchy. It begins with a piercing guitar that echoes before breaking off into a more controlled but still booming riff. In fact, Wasting Light features more intros designed to burst eardrums than any of the band's other albums do. Most of the songs begin in heavy guitar; examples are the slow but crashing intro to "Bridge Burning" and the distorted jam at the beginning of "White Limo."
While there is not much melody or depth on Wasting Light, some of the tracks are as memorable as older Foo Fighters classics heard on In Your Honor and The Colour and the Shape.
Alternative rock ballads "Arlandria" and "These Days" offer relief from the otherwise chaotic mixture of three screeching guitars, carefully harmonizing Grohl's roaring voice with heavy guitar and Taylor Hawkins' thundering drum work.
Though most of the songs are full of pop-like, heavily recurring lyrics, closer "Walk" is a sentimental tune about finally getting another chance and taking full advantage of it. Even though the song's intro sounds like a sample of Tal Bachman's 1999 chart-topper "She's So High," it connects to the listener as Grohl sings, "Learning to walk around / I believe I've waited long enough / Where do I begin?"
Wasting Light does not accomplish Grohl's original goal of revisiting the Seattle sound. But with its thundering guitar and wailing vocals, the album proves that the Foo Fighters will always be the band to listen to when you need an excuse to fist-pump.