Sound — 8
Dave Grohl knows when he needs a rethink. Foo Fighters had recently entered a phase that could be known as "Autodave" commercially pleasing songs with generic choruses, solos, the lot. For all the enjoyment out of songs such as "No Way Back", "Long Road To Ruin" and "Wheels", there was nothing special or ground-breaking about them, and it certainly wasn't a patch on the band's late 90s output. Thus, "Wasting Light" sees Grohl banish "sleepy ballads" and make a record that's "f--king nasty". With Butch Vig behind the knobs, and Grohl recording the album in his garage with all analogue equipment, "Wasting Light" could be seen as a return to the band's homegrown, lo-fi roots, and it certainly does wear that aesthetic rather proudly. "Rope", the lead single, isn't nearly as accessible as "Best Of You", but still packs a mighty punch, particularly with Pat Smear now reassembled into the pack. The presence of Husker Du/Sugar legend Bob Mould a man for whom Grohl owes a sizeable debt on the rollicking "Dear Rosemary" is as surprising as it is thrilling.
Lyrics — 8
If the return of Vig wasn't enough to wake the Nirvana faithful, Kirst Novoselic's maudlin accordion haunts "I Should Have Known", one of the band's more naked, emotive songs, Grohl's vocals treated in the same way as The Black Keys. It has a certain bluesy stomp, but Grohl's confessional lyrics are added gravitas with the return of the three men behind "Nevermind" dominating the track. "These Days" is the potential second single, and even though the chorus is a chord rehash to the verses of "Times Like These", it's one of Grohl's finest outings, with shimmering verses. "One of these days, the clocks will stop and time won't mean a thing" is one of Grohl's best lyrics, whilst "I should have known I was inside of you" comes across as a haunting tribute to a good friend of Grohl's, who passed away last year. The lyrics deal with luck, good situations, how Grohl got where he did today, and what might have happened if he didn't. There's a lot of emotion on display.
Overall Impression — 8
There are clunky moments as Grohl desperately tries to re-connect to the mid-nineties, particularly "White Limo"'s vocal pastiche of "Weenie Beenie", but this is mere proof Grohl isn't just churning these ones out. As closer "Walk" echoes around the arenas, "Wasting Light" offers songs that don't have the emptiness of one. ESSENTIAL TRACKS: These Days Dear Rosemary I Should Have Known