Album Reviews

Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways (2014) ALBUM REVIEW

There has been loads of hype around the new Foo Fighters album, complete with a documentary series on HBO. With that in mind, there’s not much more I can say about the band’s 8th studio effort Sonic Highways and the history behind it. So I won’t bother.

Instead I will focus on the music itself, which (I hate to say) is just… ok.

I rarely say that about anything Mr. Dave Grohl pumps out. It’s hard to not be a fan of something he does, especially when even the side projects he gets involved with become legendary in their own right. However having gone through Sonic Highways a few times now, I found very little on it to keep me coming back.

There isn’t much “wow” going on this time around. Sure, the record sounds grand and epic, and Grohl screams his ass off in places, but by the end of every song there is a noticeable void that I don’t remember getting from most past Foo Fighters releases. Perhaps it’s because (for the first time in the band’s history) there aren’t any songs I’d really want to go to my friends with and say “Dude, you have to hear this!”

For instance “In the Clear” is such a standard sort of rock tune that can’t keep up with anything that Foo has on prior albums… in fact, I feel that way about this whole record (minus maybe the first track). These aren’t bad songs or anything, they just lack the it-factor, and come across to me as nothing more than really nice background music.

It’s hard to put my finger on it. With the big Sonic Highways finale track “I Am a River”, I get the feeling that the emotion on this album seems canned and forced. In the past, Grohl delivered sincere grand-gestures of tunes like “My Hero”, “Everlong”, “M.I.A.”, “Come Alive”, etc. Here on this new album, “I Am a River” is supposed to fill that niche, but it just doesn’t. Instead, it reminds me of one of those Sunday-morning Christian worship songs. I don’t feel anything from it, and it comes across as a bit cheesy.

Bottom Line: Obviously Sonic Highways was an adventure and experiment for Foo Fighters, so there’s no reason to expect that it wouldn’t sound different than their past body of work. “Something from Nothing” and “The Feast and the Famine” definitely have a familiar rockin’ Foo-vibe throughout, and “Subterranean” brings me back a little bit to the There’s Nothing Left to Lose era. But it’s not enough, and leaves me wanting to hear any of their previous albums instead of giving this one another spin.

Sonic Highways is an OK album. It just sounds a bit tired, and sadly I don’t see my iTunes coming back to play anything from this record any time soon.

Rating: 7/10

Songs to check out: “Something from Nothing”,  “The Feast and the Famine”, “Outside”