Foo Fighters - Wasting Light (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Foo Fighters

Wasting Light (2011)


In theory, Foo Fighters' new album Wasting Light should be thoroughly awesome. It follows the group's disappointing Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, so it's got that "comeback album" angle. Wasting Light also guns for "back to basics" status–hard. Frontman Dave Grohl reconvened with Butch Vig, who, in case you forgot, helmed Nevermind by Grohl's other big band, Nirvana, and recorded the album in analog instead of digital. Oh, and they recorded the whole thing in Grohl's garage. Founding Foo member Pat Smear is back. Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic shows up on accordion and bass for a track. Hüsker Dü's Bob Mould pops up too, because why not. On top of that, initial pressings of Wasting Light come with a piece of the record's original master tape.

All of these factors should contribute to a really cool record. Instead they just magnify how utterly unremarkable these songs sound. Wasting Light's title fits, but not the way the band meant. On the surface, the record boasts 11 riffy tracks that recall In Your Honor's heaviness while occasionally slipping in actual hooks. It seems like with every promotional cycle, Foo Fighters promise that their next album will be their heaviest yet, but tracks like "White Limo" and "Bridge Burning" actually live up to that hype.

But dig a little deeper, and Wasting Light falls apart. Guitar dexterity aside, there's just not a lot going on. Grohl recycles clichés like "These are my famous last words" and "I'm praying for a sign," but not even his mighty yell can give them gravity. The biggest clunker in a lyrical sense is "Arlandria", in which Grohl talks about growing up in Virginia. He keeps returning to the line "Fame, fame go away / Come again some other day," occasionally rotating in "shame" instead, and the whole thing comes off as lazy and embarrassing. This guy wrote "Everlong" and "Best of You". He and I both know he can do better.

The record offers glimmers of goodness, though. Mould's tune with the band, "Dear Rosemary" strikes a nice balance between the Foos' radio rock sensibility and Hüsker Dü's own Candy Apple Grey. "White Limo" rocks hard, and the video is funny. The production is still pretty glossy, but compared to where the group was at on their last single, "Wheels" from Greatest Hits, this is pretty stripped down stuff. Still, I wonder what Steve Albini would have done with these songs. Wasting Light had tons of potential, but it's not the comeback the Foos needed.