Foo Fighters – One By One

Foo Fighters
One By One

I have to admit – and I may risk derision for it – that I wasn’t that big a fan of Nirvana. The music was ok – I appreciated the rage and depth of lyrics, and I’m thankful that the band helped bring to light many other fantastic bands laboring in obscurity. But at the time, I wasn’t all that hot on the band’s music, and I still am rather indifferent. However, I felt completely different about the Foo Fighters, who are, of course, led by Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl and whose first album hit me in all the right places. Catchy, intense, loud, it was high-powered rock, and Grohl demonstrated an ability to connect with an audience, while I always thought Cobain was merely pissing his audience off.
Unfortunately, none of the Foo Fighters later work appealed to me in the same way. Sure, I loved the song “Everlong,” but even the album – The Colour and the Shape – was too slick and radio-friendly in my eyes. There is Nothing Left to Lose was even more so, in my opinion, and I began to credit the band’s change to the commercialization of “alternative” music, but to a larger degree the creation of the Foo Fighters as a full band. See, the first album was almost exclusively Grohl, but now the supporting musicians play a larger role, and things haven’t been the same since. Until One By One, anyway, which although not a groundbreaking genius work of art (and few albums are) still leads me to believe the Foos really did have another good album in them. And the supporting cast does their part as well.
So that praise I offer is not to say this is a new Foo Fighters. You’ll still hear these songs on the radio, and they still fit the aggressive approach radio-rock takes. It’s still produced to the extreme, glossy and slick to the point that the edgy guitars on “All My Life” sound thin and the acoustic guitar on “Come Back” are almost shocking. For the most part, the band pulls from the same well that brought them their last two glossy radio-friendly albums. And yet somehow, while you’re singing along to these “great big rock anthems,” you can feel justified.
For there are some really good songs here. “All My Life” really has some strong guitar work and some unique edgy flares, and it sets the stage for the band’s most aggressive track to date, the blistering assault of “Low.” And even if you don’t want to, you’ll be shouting along as Grohl belts out “No one has a fit like I do” on “Disenchanted Lullaby.” Then there’s the eight-minute closer, “Come Back,” which is almost two songs. Starting off more aggressive and urgent, it takes a turn for the more mellow with acoustic guitars, and it may be the most original and moody song the band ever did. But there’s also the tracks you would swear you’ve heard before, but packaged here, they’re more like filler or intermission that glaring downfalls. And when Grohl mellows out, going for the mid-tempo and less aggressive “Halo,” the band disappointedly loses its more original flare.
Grohl has been moonlighting in the still indie enough Queens of the Stone Age, and the remaining Foos have had experience in acts outside this RCA project, including former Sunny Day Real Estate bassist Nate Mendel. Perhaps this experience has helped keep the band from being washed away by the one-hit nature of radio rock. Perhaps the experience with Nirvana helps keep Grohl realistic, even while the band goes for another radio hit. Perhaps the Foo Fighters are just one of the rare few bands that can be truly talented and earn the big bucks. Regardless, I like the album, and since I don’t listen to the radio, it’s not likely I’ll tire of it quickly. That’s pretty high praise.