Sonic Highways is the highly anticipated eighth studio album from Foo Fighters. After a three year wait since the success of Wasting Light, the band have tantalisingly teased us over the past three weeks by releasing ‘Something from Nothing’, ‘The Feast and the Famine’, and ‘Congregation’. The full album is finally here and in true Foo Fighters form it is not going to disappoint.
The album is frontman Dave Grohl’s “love letter to American rock.” It was recorded in 8 different studios across America, which is a big difference to the recording of Wasting Light in Grohl’s own garage. Each of the 8 tracks is recorded at a different studio, where the likes of Ramones, Arctic Monkeys and Queens of the Stone Age have previously made music. With that considered, it can only be said that Sonic Highways is the band’s most epic album yet, which is perfect to mark the band’s 20th anniversary next year.
The opening track of the album, ‘Something from Nothing’, is undoubtedly reminiscent of the band’s ‘Skin and Bones’ (2006), opening with a repeated guitar riff before introducing Grohl’s vocals. The track throws us into the heavy rock style that we have come to associate with Foo Fighters, building to Dave Grohl’s shouted lyrics. To those who have been following the band’s releases, the second and third tracks on the album are nothing new.
It isn’t until we reach ‘What Did I Do?/God As My Witness’ that we are in new territory with Sonic Highways. The track opens with the crashing of symbols that you would usually associate with the grand finale of a track – perhaps serving as the ‘What Did I Do?’ counterpart – before returning to the more stripped down vocals of the frontman. It serves as a lovely interlude at the halfway point of the album, giving listeners a break from the heaviness to focus on the vocals and a repeating piano motif working as an undercurrent to the track. That said, the break doesn’t last very long and we return to the expected tone of the album in less than a minute, but it still maintains a slightly more played down rock than the rest of the album. Moving to the next track, ‘Outside’, we get a significantly grungy feel that seems to hark back to Grohl’s Nirvana days. The band transport us to the end of the album with ‘In the Clear’, the more mellow ‘Subterranean’, and ending with the 7-minute long finale of ‘I Am A River’. The final track finishes Sonic Highways on a surprisingly lighter note than we would expect. Opting for more delicate string motifs than the rest of album, the last track has a certain grandeur about it- creating a perfect conclusion to the band’s love letter.
Sonic Highways is not a surprising album by any means. We expect heavy rock and loud lyrics from Foo Fighters, and that is exactly what they have given us. The point is that the band do not need to make something new to create an unmistakably epic album such as this one, and if they had, it would not be the credit to the history of rock that Sonic Highways is.
Sonic Highways is available now via Roswell Records, Inc.