The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Album: Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways

Album number eight from the alt-rock giants sees them doing what they do best – making kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll

By

Released 10th November

RCA Records

6/10

Album number eight. Eight songs. Eight cities. Weird figure of eight shapes on the album cover. Spot a recurring motif? You guessed it; Foo Fighters have delivered the next instalment in their 20-year history of being awesome, reminding us that in this electro-dominant day and age, guitar music still has an imperative spot in mainstream music.

When Dave Grohl & co set out to create this project, they intended to explore an innovative concept that hadn’t really been done before; recording each song on a road trip around different cities in the United States, drawing on the cities’ respective musical heritages and making a documentary series based the whole journey. You’d be right to think it was a distant trip from the grunge-y, underground, garage-rock scene that birthed the beginning of the band.

However, following on from their 2011 release, Wasting Light, which went back to basics (being completely recorded on analogue), their eighth album may well be their most conceptually ambitious yet. What we get is nothing that hits you in the face as an instant classic or that reinvigorates your inner punk rebel; in fact, it’s quite a pleasurable album. With that being said, there’s plenty of screaming, and heavy guitars (an average of three guitars on each song), nevertheless, there’s plenty of agreeable melodies and emotional tug in Grohl’s lyricism in the music, just as we’re used to.

‘Congregation’ is a profound example of the idea behind the project, recorded in Nashville, Tennessee with a guest spot from Zac Brown there’s an inherently authentic country/gospel feel to the song. On the other hand, ‘In The Clear’ (New Orleans, Louisiana) featuring the Preservation Hall Brass Band, doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from any other song on the album, and comes across as another unnecessary stop along the way on the documentary’s journey.

Although the concept of the entire Sonic Highways project may have been to innovate and push the genre through somewhat uncharted territory, there is not much that is exceedingly noteworthy in terms of the music.

There’s lots of crunching guitar, lots of pummelling drums and a few sing-a-longy choruses but it’s exactly what works for the Foos. Personally it’s just great to hear Grohl’s voice again and hearing the band doing what they do best; making kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll. Drawing on a rich heritage of classic rock, blues and jazz, Sonic Highways acts as a reminder that the Foo Fighters are one of the few remaining popular rock bands in the world that still has some integrity about them.