By now most of you will have heard “White Limo” and “Rope”. Both songs being very different from other; “Rope” is you standard beer-chugging, hands in the air, fist-pummelling each other stadium-rock anthem whilst “White Limo” is probably the heaviest I have ever heard of the Foos.
It’s also worth clearing the reunions on this album. All merely coincidence and in danger of completely overshadowing release of this album; Pat Smear is now fully at the helm, Butch Vig who produced Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ is at the reigns this time, Krist Novoselic plays accordion and bass on “I Should Have Known”, and it has been twenty years since the release of ‘Nevermind’. But “I Should Have Known” is not about addressing the pink elephant in the room; it is not about Kurt’s suicide.
The geek in me was excited when I heard that the Foos would be returning back to basics for their new record. Recording straight to tape, working from analogue and recording in their garage. They’ve ticked every single box in their fifteen year career including a double album that was stretched pretty thin in places to be honest, so their last album left me wondering where could they possibly go from there; do they record and ‘Echoes…pt. 2’ or do they pursue in covering new (ish) territory and take their formula and turn it on its head.
The answer, I’m pleased to say, is the latter. Hanging out with Joshua Homme has clearly given Grohl a new lease of energy and creativity; I’ve always been a fan of the heavier Foos tracks (like Low and Have It All) and it seems they explore these avenues on this album, “Bridge Burning” has to be the album opener of the year with its gutsy riffs and drum rolls that will no doubt get all the kids jumping like loons at Milton Keynes bowl later on this year. Another notable example is “Dear Rosemary” where Nirvana and Foo Fighters influences are fully addressed by duetting with Husker-Du/Sugar icon Bob Mould; heavy in emotion and conveys a rawness never felt on previous work but carries enough restraint to truly showcase its warmth and beauty without feeling repetitive or cheesey.
“Arlandria” kicks in with a familiar groove and subtlety with its rhythm and throbbing bassline that wouldn’t feel too out of place on a Queens Of The Stone Age album, definite favourite here for obvious reasons.
This album benefits from painstaking production. A lot of time and care has gone into making this album sound good. It really is a disservice to listen to it on shitty laptop speakers, it has to be listened cranked to 11 on the your stereo speakers, you can hear the fretboard buzz, fingertips brushing strings, before the guitars cascade over you, without ever having the essence of a wall of sound scape like Muse. It feels like a friendship that was at a crossroads, what you fell in love with is still there but what has successfully worked has been turned into something fresh to engage old hardcore fans and to attract new listeners. The formula for good old fashioned rock anthems is still there and less cookie-cutter-y but this time with an omnipresent harder and faster delivery and this benefits all the more from it.