When we asked our contributors to tell us their albums of the year, we also offered them the opportunity to retrospectively review any of their Top 10 list that we hadn’t reviewed already. Jon Kerr took us up on that offer.
11 April 2011
by Jon Kerr
Twenty years after Nevermind, Butch Vig finally produces a Foo Fighters album. In Dave Grohl’s garage. On tape. And Krist Novoselic plays bass on it. Whether you think the “Nevermind-effect” on the rock industry was a good or bad thing is one of the divisive questions for rock fans of a certain age, making this collaboration one that was destined to raise both ears and eyebrows.
Wasting Light was recorded with a similar minimalist approach last heard on 1999’s There Is Nothing Left to Lose (one of the best rock albums ever to be recorded on a couch). That was a daring move for the post-Wembley-Stadium-Foos to take, but I guess that’s their humour. The title of the record refers to them making the most of their time as a band (not “wasting light”, if you prefer) and the results live up to that idea. The record is energetic and sounds huge. How this was achieved was revealed on Back and Forth, the documentary film about the band’s career (as well as the making of Wasting Light) that was also released in April.
For me, one of the key contributors to Wasting Lights’s sound is the return of Pat Smear. Although Smear had been playing live with the band again since 2006, Wasting Light is the first Foos full-length Smear has added his six-string talents across the whole of (as opposed to the occasional track) since 1997’s The Colour and the Shape. He fits in perfectly with Dave Grohl and Chris Shiflett, with the resultant licks on ‘Miss The Misery’ and ‘White Limo’ are excellent examples of how perfect post-grunge rock can sound.
Watch the video to ‘White Limo’ by Foo Fighters:
The guests on Wasting Light are worth their weight in gold – Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü/Sugar) plays guitar and sings backing vocals on ‘Dear Rosemary’ to devastating effect, whilst Grohl’s former Nirvana cohort, Krist Novoselic, appears on bass on the anthemic ‘I Should Have Known’. But the virtuosity doesn’t stop with the guests however; Wasting Light’s real treat is the drumming masterclass from Taylor Hawkins. Just go back and listen again to him thumping all over singles, ‘White Limo’ and ‘Walk’, and remind yourself why he is one of mainstream rock’s premier sticksman.
Wasting Light was a beacon for rock in the commercial arena in 2011, debuting at number one on the US Billboard 200, making it the band’s first number-one album in their home country. Not only that, but it also topped the charts in 11 other countries around the world, including here in the UK. Plus it spawned that video, with a certain Lemmy driving a….limooooooooooooooooooooooooooo….
Sounds Like: ‘Candy Apple Grey’-era Hüsker Dü, ‘Nevermind’-era Nirvana, ‘There Is Nothing Left to Lose’-era Foo FIghters
Standout Tracks: Bridge Burning, White Limo, I Should Have Known