1. "Something From Nothing"
2. "The Feast and the Famine"
4. "What Did I Do?/God as My Witness"
6. "In the Clear"
8. "I Am a River"
Verdict: 3 / 5
With a highly anticipated concert tour heading to South Africa, it might be pleasing to some to see the newest Foo Fighters album hitting the shelves just in time to get in the proper zone. It’s as Foo Fighter-y as you might expect – but a detailed concept and artistic theme that sometimes doesn’t carry across may just be what drags down this album into a more forgettable place in the bands history.
Sonic Highways was designed as homage to America, with each track being recorded in a different major studio across the USA. This is detailed in a video series made by the band, and the accompaniment of the music at that time in that extended travelogue works very well. It’s just when you get the album on its own, away from that experiment, where it doesn’t seem to do anything much more exciting.
At 8 tracks, this is also an incredibly short album, and the shortest one the Foo Fighters have ever released. 20 years since they formed, Dave Grohl and the rest of the guys have honed the style of the band to produce a sound that they very rarely stray from, and the same is true here. What I don’t get is, if the aim is to travel across America and pay homage to it as a nation, why do all the tracks just sound like Foo Fighters tracks? Oh sure, Dave throws some stuff in the lyrics that make regional distinctions a bit clearly, but lyrics have never been the highlight for the band. It’s the pulse pounding energy and rock enthusiasm that we came for. But now it feels like the Fighters want to be U2 rather than keeping to what they’re good at.
None of the tracks are particularly bad. But at the same time, I’m struggling even now to remember what made each of them distinct. Certainly there’s nothing on this album to replace any of my top Foo Fighters tracks, let alone to go on my best of rock playlists. “In the Clear” was the closest I came to actually enjoying anything on the album. I’m glad the guys are trying different things, but I just don’t think it worked this time. It’s not a bad album – just a forgettable one.