Lean and mean, Foo Fighters’ ‘Sonic Highways’ is hardly just a rock album. Recorded in eight different US cities, rich stories and a vast array of influences are injected, attempting to create something different and spark that creative flare.
‘Something From Nothing’ takes inspiration from Chicago, as prominent bluesy rhythms act beside unlikely stories of a punk rock racquet, built up form nothing in the bottomless pits and snarly venues found crammed with people. A slow builder, the song churns out heavy riffs and pounding drum beats as well as the screams and shouts of a tarnished Dave Grohl. Smashing out more guitar riffs, screeching strings, and the clattering of snares and symbols are taken by surprise as a funk stricken keyboard clambers its way towards the chorus. Awkwardly lingering and maybe out of place, it brings something different and only makes way for the deafening noise created in the songs pinnacle moments.
Wasting no time at all, sharp guitar riffs, deep palm muting and more aggressive lyrics make way for an eruption of sounds in ‘The Feast Of The Fammine’. A shattering chorus sees Dave stretching his voice to its limits, with the mucky stained screams of ‘Hey man, it was the feast of the famine’ being belted out brutally. Lyrics that delve into the dark side of Washington DC show poverty, unemployment, and social unrest that has stricken the streets. Frustration and anger ‘Burning for truth’, these messages are poignant and strike deeper each time you listen to the song ‘You can’t find peace if you can’t find a home’.
Such a strong start to an album followed by a dangerously folk sounding ‘Congregation’, ‘What Did I Do?/ God As My Witness’ breaks off with Grohl’s voice singing sorrowfully in solitude, later over the comfort of a melodic and calm piano. At times slightly disconnected the songs change of pace and strong religious messages collide with the speaker shattering guitar riffs and dominant vocals. ‘Subterranean’ sees a similar change as the gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar welcomes a slower pace and emphasises those storytelling lyrics ‘You might think you know me. I know dam well you don’t’.
With subtle changes, ‘Sonic Highways’ at times appears to struggle with this idea of creating a noticeably different sound for each track. For a second, the opening to ‘Outside’ seems as though you’ve been taken back to an era of grunge as the low and deep sludge of a strumming guitar crafts its way into the background. Yet, like many ideas on this album, the Foo’s stadium-filler sound creeps its way to centre stage. ‘In The Clear’ and ‘I Am A River’s breaking choruses are inescapably powerful, but similar. It could be argued that ‘Sonic Highways’ is indifferent from their previous albums, but would change and a licence to get weird appease us?
Screamed lyrics, heavy riffs, and deafening choruses featured on the likes of ‘Pretender’, ‘All My Life’ and ‘White Limo’ have left fans craving for more. So why change that?
Review by Jacob Flannery |