Foo Fighters (Capitol)
Foo Fighters

By Bob Bahr

David Grohl clearly knows how to make music that is alive and vital. Thus, Foo Fighters has no shortage of energy or attitude. And if there were no expectations about this album, it might seem a lot better.

But Grohl was the highly respected drummer in Nirvana, a punk pop band that changed the face of music. Rock radio today owes its sound to Nirvana.

This being a solo project from Nirvana's rhythmic engine, it automatically gets more scrutiny and attention than 99% of this year's releases. That's good, from a marketing perspective, and bad, from a critical perspective. Foo Fighters is an okay record that will sell a million copies.

The first two tracks — intentionally or not — address Grohl's claims to the Nirvana legacy. "This Is a Call" could have been written by Kurt Cobain; it sounds more like prime-time Nirvana than the other eleven Grohl tunes here.

Then "I'll Stick Around" comes in, with its pop verses and up-shifted, noisy chorus. Sound familiar? Consider the lyrics of the chorus: "I don't owe you anything." Grohl will make no apologies and no promises to fans.

"X-Static," "Watershed" and "Weenie Beenie" exorcise the heavy rock side of Grohl, while "Good Grief," "For All the Cows" and "Oh, George" are more of the same pop-punk mix that rules the radiowaves these days. "Floaty" mixes Lovin' Spoonful-style pop with '90s guitars, with drumming in an odd time signature making the combination interesting. And at the extremes, "Big Me" is a noxious Beach Boys/Paul Revere & the Raiders bit of fluff while "Alone + Easy Target" is the sound of everything finally working correctly. The melody in the vocal is catchy and poppy, the guitars are loud, the lyrics are of the tried-and-true, youthful alienation variety — and it succeeds for the same reason that Grohl's last band hit it big. At the record's end, "Exhausted" escapes on a cloud of dreamy vocals and fuzzy guitars.

Grohl is a good musician — on all the instruments —and he has leamed (maybe from Kurt?) how to write catchy melodies. Foo Fighters might not reach people's high expectations, but it isn't devoid of promise. And it certainly isn't devoid of marketability.