October 4, 2007

Record Review: Foo Fighters (1/3)

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“Reduce, reuse, recycle” are three words in a campaign — and chorus — that helped Jack Johnson propel his music career forward. But, unfortunately, the Foo Fighters have misinterpreted this slogan, and have churned out an entire album’s worth of trash — and no, not the type that could be mistaken by another man as treasure.
1996’s “My Hero” worked well because it subverted the conventions of arena rock — with a tremendous drum introduction sounding like Animal soloing on The Muppet Show, and a wall of guitars larger than that of China’s greatest, the song not only rocked, but also had lyrical depth. Here, however, the Foo Fighters have lost this humbling — and necessary — sense of scope.
“Erase/Replace” begins with a similarly wild — dare I say animalistic? — tom-tom rhythm, but Dave Grohl’s vocals echo the sounds of the jungle a bit too much. He sounds like an ape.
Not so surprising, then, is it that the band could not figure out a more meticulous formula for conveying emotional complexity — the band trudges through boring territory as they are convinced that acoustic guitars indicate intimacy, and shouting equals anger.
Despite their flaws, the Foo Fighters managed to produce a sonically impressive record. Long time producer Gil Martin can certainly record a band. Every instrument pops, and each sound is crystal clear. But, honestly, I did not want to hear all that was on this album.
Glitzy production couldn’t mask the underdeveloped ideas that compose “Summer’s End.” And Grohl’s hushed vocals on “Stranger Things Have Happened” fall flat where they once soared (see: “Walking After You”).
Magically, “Statues” sounds like a good McCartney ballad. Grohl really can sing — in all fairness he does have a powerful voice and can sometimes map a shining melody. But, what he sings is a problem: “We’re just ordinary people, you and me.”
Yikes! I think I have had enough.