Foo Fighters' new album smells like ... Nirvana
By EMMETT MALLOY
Assistant Scene Editor
Much credit needs to be given to Dave Grohl. With the weight of being the drummer for the most influential band of this decade on his shoulders, Grohl left his Nirvana past and forged ahead with The Foo Fighters. Refusing to be a "replacement" for his former band, Grohl created his own sound, a fusion of punk and rock, balancing on a thin line between utter chaos and boppy bubblegum pop. While There Is Nothing Left To Lose is definitely the Foo Fighters' best album to date, one has to wonder whether Kurt Cobain's ghost is inhabiting Grohl's body.
From the start, There Is Nothing Left To Lose absolutely screams "NIRVANA!" With a gritty guitar riff, a catchy bassline and pounding drums, the album opener "Stacked Actors" could very much have been an In Utero outtake. Grohl even tosses out the nice guy-hush vocals in favor of a very Cobain-ish snarl.
Not that there's anything wrong with the Nirvana resemblance — it actually gives the album much more "punch" in terms of its intensity and raw energy. Being the band's most cohesive effort yet, The Foo Fighters' sound is not as saturated with pop melodies as its previous albums were.
However, the band still focuses its songwriting on a soft-loud arrangement, evident in "Headwires," a terrific, ebb-and-flow rocker that grabs the listener's attention and never lets go. Even a little Ted Nugent-inspired riff roars through "Gimme Stitches," with Grohl adding a little attitude. The closest thing that the album has to pop is the Beatles-esque "Next Year," with a baseline so poppy that one would swear that Paul McCartney himself was making a cameo.
Like the band's previous releases, Grohl taps into his deepest emotions, resulting in the album's two best tracks — "Learn To Fly" and "Aurora." As the first single, "Learn To Fly" explores Grohl's spiritual side, as the frontman pleads, "I'm looking to the sky to save me/I'm looking for a sign of life."
For a punk-rock band, The Foo Fighters are light-years ahead of its peers, at least lyrically. On the first listen, "Aurora" is thought to be about the Aurora Borealis, although upon further reflection, the song slowly evolves into a love song, with Grohl exposing his thoughts for all the world to hear.
On There Is Nothing Left to Lose, Dave Grohl reflects upon his past as a means of inspiration rather than imitating it. The song texture and lyrical arrangement resonates that of Nirvana, but with this album, Grohl should finally be regarded as the incredibly talented frontman of The Foo Fighters, not as the drummer from "that band." With There Is Nothing Left To Lose, the band pays tribute to Grohl's roots while at the same time building upon the sound that made the previous albums so successful.
All Scene Stories for Tuesday, November 16, 1999