Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways Review
The Foo Fighters have released their 8th studio album, which includes 8 tracks, written and recorded in 8 different recording studios across the country. This album is being released hand-in-hand with an 8-episode HBO miniseries of the same title.
I'm going to start off by saying that this album is a "good" album - but it did not come close to expectations. Now that that's out of the way, let's dissect this thing.
The album begins with the hardest rocking song within the list, "Something from Nothing," recorded in Chicago. Is it a good idea to start off the album with arguably the best song on the record? Well, that'll be for you to decide. The lyrics make some reference to Chicago - major fires, Muddy Waters, etc., as well as a river ("there is a river I found, under the ground, into the wild"), but we'll go on about that a little later.
Next up, "The Feast and the Famine." This song is another heavy one, and it comments on the city of Washington, D.C. In D.C., you're either a wealthy politician or something, or pretty much living from paycheck to paycheck, if you get one at all.
Then, the Foo Fighters moved down south to record "Congregation" and "What Did I Do/God As My Witness," recorded in Nashville and Austin, TX, respectively. You can tell that these two have some country/western influence in them, while keeping the Foo Fighter's tone and 'sound' that they've developed over a 20-year career.
"What Did I Do/God as My Witness" reminds me of The Dark Knight, because somewhere in the middle, you think it's over, but then it just keeps going. Sure, it's not bad that it keeps going, but it would have probably been better to just stop it when everyone expects you to. An interesting thing does occur in this song though: a river is mentioned again in the same vein as the first track ("I'm lost, deliver me. I crossed the river, finally).
They then return to a rock song with "Outside." Sort of a lackluster song for a band that has been producing great music for 20 years. However, legendary guitarist Joe Walsh helps pick the song up somewhere in the middle, but by then, it might be a little too late.
"In the Clear" has a lot of potential with a great vocal melody, but when the chorus hits, you're just left expecting so much more than what actually comes.
You'd expect the next track, "Subterranean," to be something off a Radiohead record (with a few less 'odd' noises thrown in the mix) with it's acoustic guitars, odd time signature, and clean slide-guitar. The song brings them back to Seattle, where Dave Grohl had been a part of another great rock band, Nirvana. What influence could the city of Seattle have added to this song, I really don't know.
Then, the aforementioned river comes into play in the last track, "I am a River," recorded in NYC, NY. A ballad-esque song to close the record out is another interesting move, however it works. The song crescendos into Grohl repeatedly singing/screaming "I.. I am a river." They are then joined to finish the song off with a string section that ends in a wonderful bang, but a strange un-Foo Fighters kind of way.
Overall, it IS a good album. The ability to record the same tones while moving from city to city is really amazing. The songs are great songs by themselves, but coming off a monster-like Wasting Light, it's sort of a let-down, especially for someone hoping for a real, heavy-hitting rock record.