October 4, 2007

Record Review: Foo Fighters (2/3)

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I’m a Foo fan. But really these days, it doesn’t take much for them to make fans. By virtue of the Foo Fighters not cutting Whine Rock tracks or slathering eyeliner on eyes that belie a complete lack of humanity and dressing as transgendered circus performers (I’m talking to you, Panic! At the Shitsco) they are seen as the saviors of rock ’n roll. This is a totally legitimate description of the band. And who doesn’t love Dave Grohl’s shaggy disposition?
Yet Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace is a forgettable record in spite of (or because of, depending on who you ask) all the aforementioned Christ imagery. (Shaggy = Jesus.)
The Foos are really the kind of band that’s not going down in history for being great, but for being hit-makers, and that’s really if they go down in history at all for being anything but Nirvana’s drummer’s latter day income source. They are popular right now for being general, and that’s exactly what this latest record is. It’s so general that I couldn’t remember any details of the album after I had finished it. And by details I mean what any the songs sounded like at all.
I meta­phorically spun it again on my iTunes, and the same thing happened. In one ear and out the other, or possibly not even in either ear at all. It’s like a psychological phenomenon: listening to the Foo Fighters turns off your brain and lights up that neon vacancy sign in your frontal lobes.
This description wasn’t always accurate. The early Foo stuff, basically the self-titled debut album and The Colour and the Shape, had potential … but each subsequent album, definitely including this one, were formulaic on the past models and never really explored much. That’s the beauty, as well as the Achilles’ heel, of the band. You know exactly what you’ll get: larynx-shredding power rock and some slower, acoustic tunes. It’s like going to Appel on Tuesday nights and being pleasantly unsurprised that you get to celebrate General Tso’s Thanksgiving (the best made up holiday of the year, which actually occurs every week!). And just like every other Foo track, every chorus to every song will consist of one phrase being repeated four to five times. Lyrics are also not Dave Grohl’s forte.
If you like “Times Like These,” “Best of You,” “Learn to Fly” etc., etc., yes, you will definitely love “The Pretender.” You’ll also like “Erase/Replace.” They aren’t “Everlong,” but “Everlong” is barely “Everlong” anymore with the onslaught of sameness coming from the Foo camp that retroactively deniegrates the quality of their best song.
Once again, DISCLAIMER: I actually enjoy the sameness, same as everyone else. It’s like robot rock, eh?
The second half of the album is predictably a bunch of slower, acous­tic tracks. The main deviation from the recipe is that a track called “Statues” involves a piano. Like early Cold­play … but played by the most general band in the world.
This album could use more of the roid rage rockers that the Foos do best. (When I say “roid,” I might mean steroid. I also might mean hemorrhoid. That’s for you to figure out.) It could also use some flavor.
Right now I’d place the Foos as raw potato music, when I’m really looking for more of a Cheetos Flamin’ Hot record. They are general. They are generally decent, and generally boring.