Australian Guitar - - Cd Reviews -

The Foo Fighters’ abil­ity to con­sis­tently de­liver a slab of wallto-wall gui­tars has long been a source of both praise and criticism alike. They’ve al­ways had rock on lock – it’s why they still head­line the world’s big­gest fes­ti­vals, and when ev­ery other rock main­stay even­tu­ally jumps ship to the pop realm, it’s what we can de­pend on.

But the Foos’ ninth LP is a cu­ri­ous beast in­deed. For a band well into their se­cond decade, they still man­age a num­ber of firsts. Long-time key­boardist Rami Jaf­fee has earned his sta­tus as a bonafide Foo (and a com­mem­o­ra­tive pin, prob­a­bly) as he of­fi­cially rounds out the band to a six-piece. It’s also the first time Dave Grohl has called upon a pop song­writer (Greg Kurstin) to han­dle pro­duc­tion du­ties.

The man be­hind Adele’s “Hello” doesn’t seem like an ob­vi­ous choice, but then again, this isn’t an ob­vi­ous Foos record. It takes its cues from the clas­sic rock and blues of old – it’s one that sees a Bea­tle sit be­hind the kit on the ‘70s rock-in­spired “Sun­day Rain” while res­i­dent tubthumper Tay­lor Hawkins steps up to the mic; one that takes a raw and bluesy, gospelin­spired ap­proach on “The Sky is a Neigh­bor­hood”, com­plete with vo­cal har­monies from The Kills’ Ali­son Mosshart. It’s an al­bum that seem­ingly de­liv­ers Grohl’s take on “Black­bird” with the delicate fin­ger­pick­ing of “Happy Ever Af­ter (Zero Hour)”.

And yet, the hall­marks of a Foos record re­main: the heav­ily dis­torted “La Dee Da” re­calls the wild, un­re­strained edge of “Wat­ter­shed”, while the mas­sive cho­rus of “Ar­rows” in­stils it with in­stant re­play value. Else­where, Shawn Stock­man of Boyz II Men lends his vo­cals to the am­bling, slow-burner of a ti­tle track (and it doesn’t make for the anom­aly those words would sug­gest).

It’s not quite the speak­ers-to-11 screech-a-thon that a mon­ster lead sin­gle like “Run” would sug­gest, but there’s a depth here that Grohl and the gang have never fully al­lowed them­selves to ex­plore un­til now.

So much for an “in­def­i­nite hia­tus”, eh?

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