Foo Fighters

One by One (RCA)

Phases and Stages

Foo Fighters

One by One (RCA) The Foo Fighters may still be most famous for their nightmarish "Everlong" video, but it was drummer Taylor Hawkins' near-death by OD last winter that scared the shit out of them. Frontman Dave Grohl ditched the flight-attendant outfits, traded his ubiquitous grin for gritted teeth, and got serious about rocking out. On the jet-propelled "Overdrive," arguably the most radio-friendly cut on this, their fourth album, he lays it all on the line: "We're going life or death." Credit Grohl's recent tenure as Queens of the Stone Age stickman with freeing the Foos from some of their more hyperglycemic tendencies (think first-album albatross "Big Me") but retaining their melodic instincts, e.g. the rafter-reaching "Halo." Better still is the pervasive tension of "All My Life" and "Lonely as You"; when it inevitably boils over, it does so with a vengeance. "Low," its brow extremely furrowed, exposes Grohl's roots in D.C. hardcore B-listers Scream; "Times Like These" verbally references Hüsker Dü's "New Day Rising" as the guitar suggests the Cult or U2's "Gloria"; and "Have It All" gives "Overdrive" a serious challenge in the whiplash sweepstakes. Finale "Come Back" tops them all with nearly eight minutes of lighter-waving, Monster Magnet-friendly stoner rock that pummels the listener into submission with Grohl's vow "I will come back!" By all means. Let's just hope it doesn't take another near-death experience for their next album to be this good.

****

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