After the promise of Run earlier this year the Foos have delivered with an excellent album that draws on some old school mojo mixed with a hit of metallic freak out. Most of the album is devoid of the more Alt rock elements that usually call back to Grohl’s time in Nirvana, replacing them with a double dose of Classic Rock inspiration and Metal attitude. The Foos have also decided to throw some vaguely political themes on a few songs, but they do those of us who find escapism in music a favor by keeping the political messages background to the music most of the time.
The first track, T-Shirt, seems to illustrate that Grohl also would rather stick to just making music, stating “I just wanna sing love songs and pretend like nothing’s wrong…”. This track does a good job of prefacing one of those vaguely political tracks, Run, by letting us know Dave is only addressing these topics because he feels that he needs to. The track also build up musically to the beginning of Run, flowing together into Run’s metallic freakout of a first verse.
As I said back when I reviewed Run as a single, I love hearing Dave Grohl’s harsh vocals on the verses, especially when contrasted with the softer approach he takes when getting to the melodic chorus. Taylor Hawkins Dancehall and Drum n’ Bass inspired drumming on this track also adds a level of chaos and danceability that I have never heard on a Foo Fighters track before.
The next track, Make It Right is solid featuring more of Hawkins drumming up front as well as a Jimmy Page like guitar riff and backing vocals by Justin Timberlake. Track 4, The Sky Is Neighborhood is one that I fully expect to wind up on Top 40 and Alt Rock stations, sounding like an all real instruments take on Imagine Dragons. Rather than the drum samples, computerized samples and copious amounts of studio reverb that Imagine Dragons use we have a somewhat dry mix full of acoustic drums and guitar riffing getting the same feel. Also Dave Grohl sounds much nastier and more powerful than Dan Reynolds’ polished vocals.
The next track La Dee Da is my favorite track on this album featuring two of my favorite gimmicks in a rock song and one of my all time favorite vocalists. This track has powerful fuzz bass as the main driving element, powerful metal screams in a non metal song and backing vocals by Alison Mosshart; seriously if Jack White had a guest solo on this track it would be my favorite song of all time. Even though Mosshart’s vocals aren’t that high in the mix this whole track has the same kind of spastic rhythm that she is known for, likely because her and Grohl are singing the same lines and he decided to match her cadence rather her sing it straight. This is basically the second Run on this album, featuring a powerful sound and somewhat politically charged lyrics.
Dirty Water is an okay Alt rock tune and Arrows is the most standard Foo Fighters song on this record. Happy Ever After (Zero Hour) is a trippy song that reminds me a bit of Across The Universe and has that distinct Classic Soft Rock sound. Speaking of The Beatles, the next track features Taylor Hawkins doing his best John Lennon impersonation on vocals and Paul McCartney guesting on drums. Sunday Rain rather intentionally sounds like a halfway point between The Beatles and Nirvana and does a good job of feeling nothing like a Foo Fighters song, largely because of not having Grohl sing on this track.
The second to last track The Line reminds me of Walk and is a pretty solid Foo Fighters track. Closing out this album is the title track which Grohl described as sounding like a mix of Sabbath and Pink Floyd, and honestly that description is nearly perfect. The slow but punishing guitar on the first verse and chorus with Grohl’s creeping, almost spoken vocals certainly sounds like Black Sabbath mixed with Comfortably Numb. Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men adds a choir of haunting background vocals on the chorus that perfectly hammers this song home. This track is filthy and beautiful in all the right ways and closes out the album perfectly.
Overall this is a pretty awesome album by the Foo Fighters, proving once again that they are second only to Jack White in the modern Rock god pantheon. The only real weakness of this album is they don’t have many songs that sound like the typical Foo Fighter’s sound, but I really like the aggro metallic style that they display on Run and La Dee Da, especially when contrasted against Sunday Rain and Happy Ever After. The dynamics and blending of numerous influences are what make this album so much fun to listen to, along with all of the crazy guest spots on this record. As we get closer to December I have started to make my year end Top 10 list, and something off of this album will definitely be on it.
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