It can safely be said that Foo Fighters is a true rock-n-roll band at heart, something that can’t be said about most 21st century rock acts. It can also be argued that their new album, Sonic Highways is one of the more ambitious projects taken on by a band in recent memory.
Still, Sonic Highways lacks urgency. It is an album heavy on ideas and good intentions, but feels all too sanitized.
The album is the result of a nationwide road trip to different cities in search of inspiration, built on the same premise as front man Dave Grohl’s 2013 documentary Sound City. Despite inspiration from legendary artists and recording studios along the way, Sonic Highways is just another Foo Fighters album in the end.
In fact, the album is a step back from the band’s 2011 standout effort Wasted Light. While Foo Fighters can be applauded for their dedication to experimentation this far into their discography, this is one of their more disappointing albums.
Sonic Highways is an example of how a concept album is only as good as its execution. The album lacks the raw energy found on Wasted Light, with the exception of a few moments.
“Outside” is a standout track, brimming with energy. It is marked by a lengthy guitar solo, and is as strong of a resemblance to the urgency on the Foo Fighters’ last album that can be found here.
Second best is “Feast and Famine,” a Washington D.C.-inspired cut about the riots that followed Martin Luther King’s assassination.
Other than these two notable tracks, Sonic Highways is relatively unremarkable. If you love the Foo Fighters, you will enjoy the album. If you expected Grohl’s ambitious concept to catapult them into new musical territory, you will be let down.
Sonic Highways is not a bad album. It is simply not the proper follow-up to Wasted Light, one of the best that Foo Fighters has recorded. In exploring a deeper concept than ever before, the Foo Fighters have fallen back on old formulas rather than exploring new territory.
While tracks like “Outside” display their rock-n-roll wizardry, Foo Fighters lack the punch that they packed with hits like “Rope” in 2011 as well as on early records from the 1990’s