Aza’s 2 Line Review – Sonic Highways (2014) – Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters Highly Anticipated New Album Is A Spotlessly Clean Entry Into The Fooey Canon. Glossily Produced, Energetic & Strangely Religious In Parts All Combine For An Album That’s Actually Safer Than The Concept Suggests..

Tying in the with the HBO TV Series of the same name, Sonic Highways is the brainchild of Dave Grohl whereby the band went to 8 different, heavily influential, recording studios across America and recorded a track at each one. Each track is supposedly influenced by the venue it was recorded in as the TV show explores their respective histories anecdotally with famous musicians and key staffers. I suppose for Grohl and crew this multimedia experiment is a sort of religious exercise and it certainly comes shining through in some of the songs on show here. Sonic Highways is full of catchy hooks, foot tapping choruses and balls out rock n roll as you’d expect but it certainly plays it’s trajectory safe. It’s a Foo Fighters album that tilts its hat to the influences but doesn’t tear its shirt off and mosh its way to something new.

From the steadfast opener Something From Nothing  (which goes down as another gut busting album opener like The Pretender, One By One, In Your Honour & Bridge Burning) no expense has been spared in producing these songs. Everything is sparkly, perfectly (almost surgically) clean and there’s not one part of Sonic Highways that hasn’t been through a digital song wash. There’s no mistakes, no rough edges, no wavering vocals, these songs are a testament to the exhaustive production process in assembling music. Does it mean the album loses some of its character? For me, yeah a little bit, I like Fooeys rougher as if they just walked into the room, jacked up the amps and off they went.

There is a real religious element to this album. Not a god bothering, ram the bible down your throat type of lyrical exercise but more of a faith driven message running through. Especially in Congregation & What Did I Do?/God Is My Witness which comes at you quite oddly considering the back catalogue of FF has never really trekked into this territory. Empowerment has always been a big theme in Grohl’s lyric and they are everpresent here along with the faith element. It’s an odd mix and I’m sure the bible belt in the U.S. will jump all over it!

Highlights include Congregation, Outside, In The Clear and I Am A River. Even with only 8 tracks there’s still some filler in here – Subterranean seems the most lost and The Feast & The Famine is probably the most disposable of everything on offer. At a 44 minute runtime, it’s not a hugely long listening experience so you’ll certainly rip through it without much worry. It’s a very safe Foo Fighters album and whilst it doesn’t reach the bombastic heights of Wasting Light, there’s plenty of polished goodness here for the fans.