Monday, October 1, 2007

Album Review: Echoes, Silence, Patience, & Grace

There wasn't supposed to be a Foo Fighters album this year. The band was supposed to be taking a break for '07 and reconvening early next year, but Dave Grohl couldn't keep himself away from a recording studio, and Echoes, Silence, Patience, & Grace was born. With that little history in mind, the album is a nice little treat, but doesn't really do anything to stretch the band at all. It is the sound of a band doing what it does best entirely inside its own comfort zone.

As a bunch of other reviews have said, ESPG sounds a lot like the entire back catalogue of the band compressed into one album. There's a vaguely political song about President Bush ("The Pretender"), songs that sound as though they came off of The Colour and The Shape, and just an overall sense of a condensed style.

Right from the start, I think the first two songs should've been switched. "Let it Die" has the slow start that leads to a volcanic finale, and it would've been a great lead-in to first single "The Pretender." That aside, I think the album does a great job of not only blending the past Foo albums, but of correcting the main problem of In Your Honor: separating the acoustic and electric tracks. Here, they mingle freely, interspersed over the course of the album in a way that makes the music flow easily from track to track. "Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners" is an especially awesome song, an instrumental that Grohl wrote when he heard the story of a group of miners stuck deep in a mine shaft who asked for some Foo Fighters music to listen to while they were waiting to be rescued. It's the kind of acoustic song that was really missing from IYH, and it fits in really nicely here.

In a lot of ways, this album is Foo Fighters' version of Stadium Arcadium, and I have the same qualms about the two albums. Both are very, very good records with some great songs, but they don't really go anywhere. They are both long glances into a rearview mirror of a career, and are thus limited in their artistic advancement. The best thing I can say about them is that the two respective bands perfect their sounds on each respective album, but as an audience we tend to find shocking perfection more valuable than a slow, progressive move towards sonic perfection.

Don't get me wrong, ESPG is a great album; if you are a fan of Foo Fighters you will find a lot to love here, and if you've been living under a rock for ten years and haven't heard anything by them, then this would be a decent place to start. All I'm saying is that the struggle for a better, more perfect sound isn't here, the strive for something new is missing. It's Dave Grohl & Co. sitting down, collecting their past material, and putting out the best summary they can.

Foo Fighters - Let It Die
Foo Fighters - Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners(Acoustic Bootleg)

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