mon 15/07/2024

CD: Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways

CD: Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways

Ignore the tricksy concept, and Dave Grohl's rockers strike again

What is this? Computer game, Salvador Dali, sci-fi novel?

Eight musical cities, eight films, eight sounds, eight songs: grasping the scope of Dave Grohl’s ambition with the Sonic Highways project is a strenuous business. The album cover, all distorted visual references packed together, looks more like a dystopian computer game than music from the honest-to-goodness Dave Grohl. It doesn’t sit well with the Foo Fighters’ core strengths: their frank, immersive, overwhelming energy and emotional honesty.

And the connection between TV series and album is strained.

The HBO docs, currently showing on BBC Four, in which Dave Grohl talks to musicians from eight great musical cities, has impressed, and Grohl – sociable, open-minded, adept at gaining confidence – has proved a compelling interviewer. But the music was pre-written, the big musical influences, especially Nashville and New Orleans, only coming through in the lyrics, composed on the road. Which leaves the idea of this album as a musical-cultural fusion feeling a bit thin. It’s probably just as well that the Foo Fighters, rock purists above all, haven’t tried a jazz or country song, but the music we have isn’t helped by the intrusive marketing patter.

Sometimes the locally-themed lyrics work (“The Feast And The Famine”, about Washington DC, has a tart satirical edge), and sometimes the location feels intrusive (the God-bothering on “What Did I Do”, about Austin, Texas doesn’t feel authentic). With cities that match the Foo Fighters’ character more readily, such as LA (“Outside”), you feel there’s a hint of its desert-drama character in the spacious, melodramatic music. Better, though, to forget about the concept, and enjoy the band’s familiar amphetamine-shot sound. Throbbing slabs of guitar, vocals like explosions in a gravel quarry, racing drum-pulse, howls that can make an entire stadium quiver. Best live is “Something From Nothing”, which builds relentlessly, thrillingly, defiantly to a sensational Grohl roar.Musically, this album doesn’t do anything new, but with the Foo Fighters, does that matter?

Better to forget about the concept, and enjoy the band’s familiar amphetamine-shot sound


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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