The press materials for Foo Fighters’ seventh album, Wasting Light, emphasize a return to basics: The band recorded it in Dave Grohl’s garage in California, on analog tape, supposedly without computer assistance. It was produced by Butch Vig, who also recorded Nirvana’s Nevermind, and “Dear Rosemary” features Grohl’s hero Bob Mould, who nearly recorded that album. Continuing that thread, Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic plays bass and accordion on “I Should Have Known.” Wasting Light also marks the full-time return of original member Pat Smear, appearing on his first Foo Fighters studio album since 1997’s The Colour And The Shape. The disc even comes with a piece of magnetic tape.
The band needed to return to basics after 2007’s forgettable Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, which followed the excessive but otherwise great double album In Your Honor in 2005. As a return to Foo Fighters’ specialty—melodic, hard-hitting rock with soaring choruses—Wasting Light is a success. Every song hits the band’s sweet spot; “White Limo” escalates things to Queens Of The Stone Age levels, and even the more balladic “I Should Have Known” can’t stay quiet for long. That said, the album’s biggest hooky earworm chorus doesn’t arrive until track seven, “Back & Forth.” “Dear Rosemary,” with the assist from Mould, comes close, but it’s a little surprising that an album so obsessed with getting back to the basics doesn’t deliver the hooks Grohl and company do so well.
If nothing else, Wasting Light is Foo Fighters’ first generally good record in six years, solid from top to bottom without the filler that marred the band’s early records. That’s one old habit no one wants to see again.