“Sonic Highways,” the latest effort from the Foo Fighters, was highly anticipated for months, with promotion from a residency on “The Tonight Show” to a documentary chronicling the band’s adventures in recording the album. Sadly, the album fails to reach these expectations and falls short of reaching the legacy established by Dave Grohl.
While the album provides some great songs (“In The Clear,” “Congregation”), “Sonic Highways” focuses too much on the soft side of the Foo Fighters and then goes to the extreme by throwing in Grohl’s signature growl for good measure.
The idea for this album came from Grohl and involved the band traveling to eight cities across America to record eight different songs, each inspired by what Grohl and the band saw and heard in each city.
At the same time, the band included a musical guest for each song, also depending on the city in which they recorded, ranging from Zac Brown to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
The song “Something From Nothing” begins with a soft intro and confoundedly turns into a raging jam that just doesn’t sound complete. While Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick provides a good sense of rhythm with his virtuoso, the song still manages to become a train wreck.
“The Feast and The Famine” follows suit, but the song manages to incorporate what makes the Foo Fighters what they are with one-two punch of rhythm guitar provided by Grohl and guitarist Pat Smear. But what makes the song is Grohl’s growl, which is iconic in itself.
Where the album shows its weaknesses are in its slow jams, especially evident in “Subterranean” and “What Did I Do? / God As My Witness.” In “Subterranean,” Grohl screams, “You might think you know me / I know damn well you don’t / Oh no, oh no, you don’t.” This line is evident in proving the point: The Foo Fighters identity is missing in this iteration of their career.
“Congregation,” which is arguably the best song of the album, is accompanied by Zac Brown and features some of the best guitar work from the Foo Fighters’ new lead guitarist, Chris Shiflett. The song is anthemic and moves to the core of the Foo Fighters’ arena rock style. If Grohl stuck more to the recipe of crafting rock anthems instead of satisfying the creational journey of the album, this would be another career staple.
While many fans of the Foo Fighters may be disappointed by the lack of great material, they can still appreciate the effort that the band went through to do something that no artist has done before. This album will easily be looked over in their ever-present career, which is filled with monster jams and hard rock staples. All we can do is hope that Grohl will get his act together and craft a harder-sounding album in the future.