If there is one defining characteristic of the Foo Fighters, it’s the sheer uselessness of their existing at all. Emerging from the ashes of arguably the greatest band of the last ten years, Dave Grohl (often referred to, cruelly, as the “grunge Ringo”) found it necessary to inflict his pent-up drummer’s frustration on the rest of the world on his two previous releases, delivering much in the way of feisty rave-ups and little in the way of even vaguely memorable pop music.
Things change, however, and Grohl has perhaps found his muse. To speak of the “best” of the Foo Fighters albums is hardly a claim of biblical significance, yet that is just what There Is Nothing Left To Lose proves itself, albeit somewhat reluctantly, to be. It’s an almost-return to form that finds Grohl & Co. even scratching some of those itches that only Nirvana seemed capable of reaching.
There is the adrenaline rush of “Stacked Actors,” the album’s opening track, with Grohl spitting out his lyrics (“Can you fake it/ Can you make it look like they want?”) amidst the alternating hammerhead guitars of the chorus and warm tremolo of the verse. It’s a reference to Grohl’s increasing disgust with the music industry, even taking a sly jab at Courtney Love. What a novel idea! That having been said, it’s nevertheless a charged and inspired moment by a band seemingly incapable of even remotely inspiring either awe or mystery.
On occasion, There Is Nothing Left To Lose slumps too easily into the shouty power pop-by-numbers fodder that constantly rapes the charts, although when Grohl shifts gears slightly and pens a ballad, you see signs of an emerging talent probing new (for him at least) and interesting territory. “Aurora” and “Ain’t It The Life” are fine examples of this, recalling Elvis Costello and even The Smiths at times. More of this, please!
If the Foos would just jettison their Blink 182 material, they might be capable of generating some excitement. As is, you still do have a band writing much better material on the whole, maybe even ready to deliver a real knockout blow sometime in the future. Stranger things have happened.