Seventeen years and seven days before the Foo Fighters released their seventh album, Wasting Light, Kurt Cobain took his life in Seattle. If that numerological fluke isn't enough of an eyebrow-raiser, consider the first lyrics Dave Grohl screeches on the new LP are "These are my famous last words." In actuality, they're just a throat-clearer. But if this disc was the Foos' last ever, it'd be a thrilling capper: all bang, no whimper.
Nearly two decades into their career, the Foo Fighters' biggest drawback seems to be their reliability. But on Wasting Light, Grohl and Co. did a little tinkering in the garage — literally. The album was cut where Grohl stores his kids' pink bicycles, strictly on analog equipment. The band brought in throwback players, too: guitarist Pat Smear rejoined the group, Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic guested on the creepy blues "I Should Have Known," and Bob Mould tossed harmonies on fist-pumper "Dear Rosemary."
All the looking back seems to have jolted the Foos into a different gear, and the album's 11 songs are as high-octane as they've ever produced, all muscular riffs, maniacal drumming and ferocious vocals. The thrashy "White Limo" twitches for three minutes and 23 ear-curdling seconds, while "Back & Forth" twists from a straight-up Cars homage into a snarling bit of doom metal into a power-pop chorus with a sing-songy '90s melody. Standout "Arlandria" launches with the kind of desert-rock riffage Grohl picked up from Josh Homme, then chills out in the pocket before delivering a devastating uppercut, a gloriously hummable hook.
The Foo Fighters' last few albums have been gut-punchers without being gutsy. But on Wasting Light, Grohl is reborn as an introspective bruiser ready to go a few more rounds with history. "My past is getting us nowhere fast," he croons on "A Matter of Time" before hypnotically musing, "It's just a matter of time before…" The end may be a foregone conclusion, but the man with one of the most incredible second acts in rock history doesn't need to finish the thought.