The Foo Fighters’ One by One, the band’s first album since 1999, is densely packed with glum song titles (”Tired of You,” ”Lonely as You,” ”Disenchanted Lullaby”), grinding beats, and moaned vocals. The result? Unexpected exhilaration. Crunch, power, and a certain gruff wit you’d expect from the Foos, but elegance as well as devotion to romance? When Dave Grohl sings, on ”Low,” ”You be my passerby/I’ll be your new one to pass through,” you hear the ache of desire caught in his throat, a voluptuous pain enhanced by the swirl of guitar blare. Sometimes the whisper-to-a-yell song construction gets repetitive, but the near-constant exploration of various relationships — those between lovers, or friends, or Foos-to-their-fans — never does.
”No one has a fit like I do!” — a vehement line from the crucial couplet of ”Disenchanted Lullaby” — is followed immediately by the beautifully poignant and punning ”I’m the only one that fits you.” There is, indeed, very little that is soothing about the song, which is one of its virtues; the Foos refuse to make any interaction between people less than a complicated, fragile, and nuanced affair. Similarly, ”Tired of You” is about not getting tired of a loved one; it’s also one of the rare songs here that commences quietly (just Grohl’s hoarse croon and a strummed acoustic) and stays that way. ”Tired of You” might also be intended as a message to the band’s audience; it’s a measure of the song’s sweep and artful ambiguity that its meaning can expand, to encompass a renewed commitment to you, the listener.