Reviews Foo Fighters Sonic Highways

Foo Fighters

Sonic Highways

With their newest release, Sonic Highways, we aptly find Foo Fighters at an apparent crossroads and no longer content to write and record music in a traditional fashion. Sonic Highways is an album conceived and written as a companion piece to the HBO series of the same name, and directed by Dave Grohl himself.

The concept of the show? Go to eight different cities, research and present the history of the music in that region with various interviews of the artists integral to forming the cities' sound. The concept of the album? Record one song at a studio in each of the cities (produced under the omniscient ear of Butch Vig), with Grohl writing lyrics compiled from the interviews. The show was very well produced and more than anything was a love letter from Grohl to the global idea that music is the true connection - the one common theme with which all of humanity can identify.

Now, there's no way to really say that without sounding like a pretentious twat, but Sonic Highways the series succeeded in showing that the connection CAN be made. Where the series faltered to a degree is that each show ended with the band in the studio recording and performing the song that was written in that city that at times came across as if to say "Sure, music is universal but this is about the band"

So, where does this leave us with Sonic Highways the album? It does nothing to tarnish the legacy that the band has created but alas, does nothing to add to the legacy either. Foo Fighters have built a long-standing reputation as a straight forward meat and potatoes rock band and Sonic Highways has some solid numbers to be sure. But even the strongest tunes on the album - 'Something From Nothing', 'Congregation' and 'Outside' are creepers. It takes a few spins to really understand that the band is trying to throw some surprises into the tried and true formula we've all come to know and love.

Breaking down the formula you'll find that all of the same ingredients are still there. For starters, Sonic Highways is without a doubt drummer Taylor Hawkins' best work. The precision he shows throughout the album is one for the books. Producer Butch Vig is back to his old ways - covering it all in a smooth shiny glaze but beneath the surface, under the sheen and gloss of the concept, Sonic Highways sets a worrisome precedent. Worrisome in the sense that Grohl may feel the need to seek unconventional methods of recording all future Foo Fighters albums. This concern is bolstered by recent interviews in which Grohl states that what he has in mind for the next album will "make this look like fucking kindergarten".

The Foo's previous effort Wasting Light was recorded in Grohl's garage and wound up being one of their best albums to date. As any fan will tell you, the band doesn't need to record the next album underwater to pique their interest. So the question becomes, is Grohl employing these methods to hold our interest in the band or his?

7.2 / 10Kevin Fitzpatrick
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2014

7.2 / 10

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