Foo Fighters' new album 'Wasting Light' is released on April 11, preceded by a single, 'Rope', on March 1. Dan Martin has had a sneak preview
After announcing itself with feedback-drenched guitar, drums like machine-gun fire and then a phasers-on-kill full-band cavalcade, ‘Wasting Light’ starts explosively as Grohl screams, “These are my famous last words!” All this within the first minute, even before a chorus the scale of Vesuvius erupts. The Foo Fighters return with a cigarette-chewing stadium-punk riot that is by far the most arresting opening we’ve heard from them in a long time. This. Bodes. Well.
The single tap-dances in stoppy-starty guitar weirdly reminiscent of ‘Infinity Land’-era Biffy Clyro before relaxing into a verse that alternates between Queen-style harmonies and Queens-style jerks peppered with primal Grohl-howling, promptly freefalling off a giant cliff of euphoric melody. Like leaping off a cliff, see. Without a rope.
Only three songs in does ‘Wasting Light’ settle its pure-pop groove, with more staircase harmonics and another one of those cast-iron choruses that tent-poles a dark, ambivalent love song, just in case we were getting too cosy.
This track, trailed online before the release of ‘Rope’ is a gift to the metal ends of the fanbase, revisiting the Big Man’s work with Probot. The vocal is as distorted as Alice Glass and as whiskey-ravaged as Lemmy. It all leaves you kind of trembling.
There’s no getting away from it, the quiet-loud-quiet dynamics and buzz-saw riffs of ‘Arlandria’ put you in mind of nobody so much as Nirvana at their most melodic. This is no bad thing; with so many other people channelling Nirvana just now, Grohl has more right than anybody else, and in a classic Foos twist it channels a lovely bit of nursery rhyme with its “Shame shame go away/Come again another day” interludes.
A change of pace as Grohl powers down the pistons for a while and draws on an almost country, hymnal flavour, before blooming into (yes) yet another gigantic chorus worthy of ‘The Color And The Shape’, all with a good old-fashioned lyric about lost love and graverobbing: “Easy for you to say your heart has never been broken/Your body’s never been stolen”.
Back And Forth
The fun one in which Grohl gives the emoting a rest and gets the horn, in a simple-yet-effective coitus reference. “I’m looking for some back and forth with you/Are you feeling the same as I do?” sings Grohl while inadvertently rubberstamping an entire new genre, the nursery-rhyme knee-trembler. ‘Back And Forth’ proves more than anything else here that while this is the band’s return to primal rock, the big pop songs are also bigger and poppier than they’ve been for years.
A Matter Of Time
This will be a favourite of the more meatheaded ends of the Foos fanbase only in that it’s the one that’s would probably appeal to the presenters of Top Gear and only then because it’s the one you’d best describe as “driving music.” But even then it sails along on a crisp wave of tune that somehow recalls ‘This Is A Call’. Now isn’t that lovely?
Miss The Misery
In which the Foos kick back into mid-pace as they approach the gleaming horizon, possibly while driving on the giant rock’n’roll train they’ve borrowed from AC/DC’s live shows from last year. This, fact fans, is the one that contains that ‘Wasting Light’ line from the album title. It will sound awesome in stadiums.
I Should Have Known
Grohl’s big climax unfurls amid thunderclaps and more histrionic emoting in what might be called the record’s only concession to the ballad. Well, every return-to-form should have one. This would sound perfect as the solo-Grohl interlude before at the encore at the live shows. Doubly great because it means they can restore ‘Everlong’ to full-band status.
As a record this ferocious should, its curtain call returns to full power and displays all shapes and colours of this band, being half college rock and half heavy metal. “I never wanna die!” howls Grohl as the tension rises before the credits roll. Are we actually going to say it? Yes we are. We don’t suspect he ever will. Welcome back, Mr Grohl!
Just as it long ago became a lazy gag to greet a new Gallagher release with a withering “well they’ve hardly gone dubstep, have they?” there’s no radical new afrobeat flavour to ‘Wasting Light’. What you’re always going to get from Foo Fighters is testosterone-fuelled arena rock’n’soul.
But nevertheless, this is the awesome sound of a band massively rejuvenated. The songs are bigger, the teeth are sharper, the metal is denser and perversely, the analogue production makes it sound a hell of a lot more classy. Truth is you sometimes run out of masculinity metaphors when describing the Foo Fighters, but spending time with Josh has also rubbed off, so in the ways that the best rock music always is, it also sounds splendidly girly at times.
So this restores Dave as the everyperson’s Rock God, but it also recasts the Foos as more of an actual, collective band than ever. We’re just going to say it. This is the best Foo Fighters album since ‘The Color And The Shape’.
Foo Fighters play the NME Big Gig on Friday 25 February. Some last-minute tickets have just been released
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