The Foo Fighters 8th album Sonic Highway officially hit the stands November 10th, 2014 and was met with mixed reactions. The 8-track album features a guest artist on every track. While Dave Grohl’s (lead vocals and founder) intention was to ‘write a love letter to the history of American music’ the album as a whole falls somewhat short of expectations.
Because it’s the Foo Fighters and Dave Grohl is Dave Grohl, the album’s first track was an instant hit when released as a single back in October of 2014. As the first song on a record, it sets the standard well for the remaining seven tracks. Each song is fulfilled with the timeless, sweeping guitar notes, Grohl’s endlessly scratchy voice and the debatably predictable drum sets. Needless to say, another Foo Fighters album is still a Foo Fighters album, and we’re excited.
Individually, each song maintains the classic Foo Fighters instinct we’ve come to love. In particular, track four, “What Did I do/ God as my Witness”, reminds us that classic rock is not yet dead. Grohl’s vocals start off the song and carry it through to the chorus filled with Pat Smears (rhythm guitar) and Taylor Hawkins (drums and backup vocals) expertise. A mid-song pause breathes more life into the song and the track is finished off with a memorable guitar ballad and once again, Grohl’s timeless voice. It comes as a surprise that this particular track was not written in the 90’s as it belongs in a sold out stadium.
Additionally, tracks six and eight seem to carry a similar timeless feeling. Track six, “In the Clear”, appears at first to fall short in its chorus, yet lengthy, but wonderful guitar uprisings demand appreciation in all aspects. The lyrics in the second verse, ‘There are places I don’t remember, There are faces I don’t remember, How could I forget you painted stars into the sky, Coming like a reaper marching in the second life’, bring music to life. The chorus sadly remains somewhat dull and repetitive, more so than other chorus (Sorry, boys!). If not for the harmony between the versus and the always on-point guitar, this might have been a skip-over song.
The last song on the record, “I Am a River”, ultimately takes the cake as a Foo Fighters classic. The 7:09 minute song is certainly at a slower pace than Foo Fighters of years past, however, it carry’s an electric charge to rival that of “These Days” (of Wasting Light, the band’s 7th studio album). A slow rise built on keyboards and guitar melody gives way to a hidden but surprisingly deep first verse. Continuing, “I Am a River” builds throughout the track to climax with Grohl’s vocals, Hawkin’s drums and an excellence of guitar playing. It’s an easy and comfortable end to the album, although it’s easy to wish for just one more song.
The album as a whole can appear off beat. Perhaps because of the individually featured artists, Sonic Highway doesn’t flow as well as the previous records. At times it seems the songs are no longer geared towards ‘a love letter’. Perhaps driven towards capturing the artists of America rather than the music of America. It’s clear that this is not the Foo Fighters best album. It is, clearly, still a damn good album. But this is only so because it is the Foo Fighters and they deliver nothing less.
The Foo Fighters are the winners of 11 Grammy awards and counting, five of which were won in 2012. They have received 25 Grammy nominations thus far and continue to receive other awards for their excellence in music. Sonic Highway marks their first album release since 2011 and was concurrently released with an HBO show of the same title. The Foo Fighters are currently on tour in South America and, having recently released their tour dates for both the U.K. and Australia in 2015.