The Foo Fighters are an awesome band with a lot of solid albums behind them with this being one of them. A lot of their songs, especially their early ones, are pure hard rock. While there is some of the same here, there’s also a softer side of the band that’s revealed. Melodies, lots of singing, and laid back riffs take over. The sound and energy is a lot less harsh than before, yet they pull it off well. There are some tracks here that would become their most notable singles later on . This is also where they really hone in on their classic sound.
The album opens with the awesome and energetic “Stacked Actors.” This song, about the phoniness of Hollywood, starts out with low down dirty rock and roll music before it mellows out during the verses. While Dave‘s singing you can hear the trance inducing softer music playing behind him. In some places it reminds me of what he would do later on with Them Crooked Vultures. At the end he unleashes this wicked scream that makes you pump your fist and shout “Hell Yeah!” Even though Dave himself has stated the song is about the Hollywood life, Courtney Love says it’s about her. Then again she thinks everything is about her, so it should come as no surprise.
“Breakout” is another one of their awesome songs that’s catchy as hell. The delivery is straight forward; it just wants to rock your socks off. It’s interesting because it’s about someone who has acne and wants to break up his current relationship because of it. It’s a silly concept, but one that ensures you’ll remember the song for a long time. The fan favorite “Learn to Fly” really shows off Dave’s strength as a songwriter. Even though it has a great hook and a memorable music video, it’s about finding some sort of inspiration or guidance that makes you feel alive. It really shows Dave’s strength as a songwriter; even though the music is upbeat and catchy, the content has a deeper meaner.
“Gimme Stitches” introduces the listener to the softer Foos. It’s not the softest on the album,but it’s one of the more melodic tracks with toned down music and singing. At times the guitar seems to take influence from Southern Rock creating a classic rock vibe. Things pick up again with “Generator.” The use of the talk box the beginning has always reminded me of Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer.” The melody of the riff is bouncy enough to get inside your head and Dave’s hushed vocals matches nicely with the tone here. The quiet vocals let’s you hear more of the song, rather than focusing on his screaming and freaking out like on some of their singles.
“Live In Skin” has some of the best lyrics of the record. Dave perfectly expresses the need for a change in life with the line “I must live in skin that’s new/I’m a livid skin that’s new.” It’s poetic, yet kind of grotesque way to express this idea. You can also hear the weariness and disbelief of his current life when he sings “I’m amazed that I’m still standing.” It’s a bittersweet, reflective track that longs for a change in life. It’s a great song with a subdued rock edge; even though the pace is slower, there’s still enough energy to keep it moving.
The rest of the album is really soft and on the mellow side. This is also where a number of slow songs are found. “Aurora” is a bittersweet track that finds the singer reflecting on his old Seattle life, while “Ain’t it the Life” is a peaceful and serene song about living the quiet life. It sounds like the perfect track to listen to while staring out at a beautiful view. Though it’s nice, it’s almost too slow at times. “Next Year” is another slow song, but weaker than the others. It’s pretty dull; the lyrics aren’t even that engaging. Rather, it sounds like a filler that was added on at the last minute. This softer side of the band shows how they aren’t afraid of expanding their side. Even if it always doesn’t work, it’s still a breath of fresh air from the guys and allows the listener to absorb every part of the band.
Overall, the album gets 8/10. When it comes to their albums the Foo Fighters usually deliver and it’s no different here. Though they still keep their hard edge rock sound, they also reveal a soft, mellow side to the band. It shows their growth both as musicians and songwriters. Though a lot of the slower numbers are still great, there are some that don’t make the cut. Still, it’s great to see and hear how they are one to change up their sound even if it’s only a little bit.