We’re a measly two decades out, but ’90s nostalgia is already hitting its dubious peak: Scuffed-up Doc Martens and slouchy flannel shirts are ubiquitous again, My So-Called Life DVDs are required (re-)viewing, and Pearl Jam are steadily reissuing their grunge-defining back catalog.
Still, it’s hard for any new band to compete with Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl’s post-Nirvana behemoth. Wasting Light, the group’s seventh studio album — and first since 2007 — was recorded with rock überproducer Butch Vig (he manned the boards for Sonic Youth, the Smashing Pumpkins, and, yes, Nirvana) in Grohl’s basement using only analog equipment. As if that weren’t enough, Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, Hüsker Dü’s Bob Mould, and the Germs’ Pat Smear, who played with the Foos from 1994 to ’97, all appear, forming a kind of Voltron of ’90s alt-ness.
Here’s the miracle, though: Foo Fighters never feel like a backward-looking band. Light is a muscular rock & roll throwdown, featuring the Foos delivering exactly the kind of catchy, pummeling anthems they’re known for, with total disregard for the whims of the masses. ”Bridge Burning” is rich and fiery — its layered chorus and machine-gun percussion will knock you over on first listen — while ”These Days” is a tough, moody power ballad in the melancholic spirit of 1997’s ”Everlong.” ”Once upon a time, I was somebody else,” Grohl growls on ”Back & Forth,” but it turns out he’s still that guy — affable yet fierce, and ready with a memorable chorus. A?