That’s not to say that Sonic Highways is a bad album, because it isn’t. Opener ‘Something From Nothing’ is reminiscent of Grohl’s Paul McCartney collaboration for the Sound City soundtrack album; it starts calm and builds via some funky keyboard riffs to a million miles an hour balls-out classic rock finale that’s gonna sound ridiculous at T in the Park next year (a boy can dream, right?). Ditto ‘The Feast and The Famine’, which is just about intense and high tempo enough to be guaranteed a killer reception live. Neither of these tracks are classic Foos though: the only effort close to that is the undeniable ‘Outside’, a genuine potential classic which could well be this album’s ‘The Pretender’.
The high-minded concept behind Sonic Highways is that every song is inspired by a certain individual city or scene. The problem is that the end results doesn’t sound like music inspired by Nashville, for example, it sounds like a band trying to sound like they come from Nashville, which begs the question; why listen to Foo Fighters do country when you could listen to actual proper country-rock music made by actual proper country-rock bands?
It’s worth remembering that Foo Fighters have always been better at individual tracks than at whole albums; ‘The Pretender’ was easily the best thing on Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace, and ‘Best of You’ stands out from In Your Honor. Foo Fighters have released less than perfect albums before, and will release brilliant albums again (so long as Dave’s ego explosion remains in check), and when (when, not if) Foo Fighters tour the UK next year I’ll be there, tearfully belting out every word, because Foo Fighters remain the stand out rock band of the last twenty years, and one overly-ambitious, under achieving aural experiment doesn’t change that.
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