Fighters break no new ground

When all else fails, you can rely on The Foo Fighters. Though not always perfect, since their inception, they have consistently delivered solid, musically tight performances with songs that always demand a second or third listen.

Their latest album, Wasting Light, is another link in a long chain of energetic, mildly grungy albums delivering much more of the past. Great news for any grunge or alternative addict. Unfortunately, at least half of this album feels like the same song on loop.

If you are on for standard alternative rock with a dash of grunge, then this album will deliver exactly what you desire. However, most of the songs found here easily have analogues with the band’s previous material, rendering the purchase of them moot.

The album ends lightly and acoustically with “Walk.” A sharp contrast to everything prior to it, this song is actually better than everything that preceded it.  A happy, uplifting song, it trades pace and grit for joy and emotional energy. It starts out with a whisper and explodes into a greater, powerful ending that highlights everything this band does well in terms of passion and intensity.

“Back & Forth” is another highlight of this album. A song that starts out somber and builds in intensity, it lets band frontman Dave Grohl’s voice shine through the almost witty, hard-edged guitar harmonies. It’s an amalgamation of the best parts of their previous work, having an emotional edge yet not taking itself too seriously.

The first few songs among the rest are all standard fare: fast-paced, rhythm-driven music. “Bridge Burning,” “Rope” and “Dear Rosemary” could have all been the same song melodically, differing only in their vocals. Even then, the vocals had the same intonation and style outside their lyrics.

“White Limo” breaks the earlier mold. The vocals are primarily a mix of shrill and guttural screams decorated with a frantic guitar and drum set. The guitar melody itself gets inside your head quite well, and overall, the song is in the territory The Foo Fighters border but never crosses.

“Arlandria” takes the tempo down a few clicks in a way similar to the band’s ballads in past album. The vocals are contrasted with a much more sparse harmony that relies a drumbeat with only hints of guitar. The repetitive, memorable nature of the chorus makes it one that’s sure to get locked in your head.

“These Days” is another ballad similar to the previous song. While enjoyable in its own right, there is not much to distinguish it from the previous song except the catchy, light-hearted guitar riff that illuminates the background.

“A Matter of Time” is the most optimistic song in terms of tone. While no different than the previous two songs, it has still got an upbeat sound more noticeable than any of the previous songs. The vocals and music coalesce around each other quite nicely.

The next song, “Miss the Misery,” is a full return to traditional grunge music. Making no mistake at being conventionally pretty, the song aims for an intense, heavier sound. While not screaming, the singing is noticeably more hoarse in this song and goes well with the grittier feel.

“I Should Have Known” is the penultimate and slowest song on the album. It ebbs and flows in terms of its intensity, building at key points and then collapsing into light, lush sounds. The song carries almost a Western feel and maintains dearth despite being down tempo.

Anyone already a fan will love this album. The casual listener or uninitiated could easily listen to the original albums and not miss anything in this one.

However, the few highlights, such as “Back & Forth” and “Walk” are some of the band’s best works and ones that could be listened to infinitely. This album is mostly standard fare, but for this band, that is still a league above the rest.

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