Two years ago, Foo Fighters released a double album, In Your Honor. It seemed like they came up with a concept that could be effective. One disc of rockers and another of acoustic tunes. Unfortunately, the result was twenty tracks that could have easily been pared down to twelve or thirteen. The rock record was a too dark and the acoustic record was too fluffy and scattered. The two discs lacked cohesiveness.
It seems that during the writing and recording of their new album, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, Dave Grohl and the Foos rediscovered some of the sonic elements that made their 1997 album The Colour and the Shape a breakaway hit.
The album's first single, "The Pretender," is a hard pounding tune that the Foos have become known for in recent years. It's a catchy song with blistering guitars, a pounding rhythm section and a nice mix of Dave Grohl growl and clever melodies.
"Let It Die" is a four-minute song that slowly builds from a solo guitar and vocal to a full-on rocker at about 2:40. The band seems to have taken some cues from Arcade Fire on dynamics. The record is full of ups and downs which recent Foo Fighters records have lacked. The Foos recently covered "Keep the Car Running" from Arcade Fire's latest album Neon Bible on BBC radio in the UK (download an mp3 of the performance here).
"Long Road To Ruin" features and brilliant Grohl melody with a lighter rock sound. The song's vibe lies somewhere between "Everlong" and "Big Me."
Right in the middle of the record sits the acoustic tune, "Stranger Things Have Happened." This is another song that features and great Grohl melody and an intense vocal delivery. It's not until the kind of wonky acoustic guitar solo that you realize that the songs is just two or three acoustics, vocals and what sounds like a click track.
On the hilariously titled "Cheer Up, Boys (Your Make Up Is Running)," Grohl brings back the pop melodies that made "Monkeywrech" and "Hey Johnny Park!" such great songs. He also finds the clever chord shapes again that are a nice counterbalance to the thunderous power chords the Foos have been dishing out lately.
On the beautiful piano based tune and album closer "Home," we witness Grohl reaching a new high as a songwriter. The song's sad melody and softly sung lyrics beat anything on the second disc of In Your Honor. It's nice that the Foo Fighters carried some of the experimental elements of In Your Honor with them to Echoes. "Home" features a beautiful string arrangement and wonderful dynamics that that build up and fall back down again but never gets too loud.
The one obvious mistake on the record is the bizarre acoustic instrumental track "Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners." I mean, it's nice that the Foos can play some bluegrass-like speed riffs on acoustic guitar, but the song doesn't fit the album at all. It's the equivalent of a full on rock song being on a Ralph Stanley record. "Beaconsfield Miners" just doesn't fit. Plain and simple.
Don't let all of these comparisons to old Foo Fighters records and songs throw you. This is a new album by a band who has rediscovered elements of their sound that made past albums so successful while keeping their eyes on the future. Echoes is the Foos at their best. A rock band willing to take chances and create a record of diverse songs that sit well one after the other and keep the listener's attention.
Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace will be released tomorrow, September 25.
Foo Fighters will be playing in Charlotte at the Charlotte Bobcats Arena on October 5. Tickets went on sale Friday and are almost gone. They tickets that are left are available from the all powerful ticket beast. I think you can figure it out. Detroit based Hifi Handgrenades will open the show. The band features ex-The Fags singer John Speck.