With new drummer Taylor Hawkins in tow, Foo Fighters returned with the desperately titled There Is Nothing Left To Lose, which was recorded as a three-piece at Grohl’s home studio. Now, I don’t normally quote press releases, but the one I received describing this album sums it up both succinctly and well: “the Foo Fighters remind us that it is okay to play loudly and in tune, that songs can still be about girls, and that not every band needs a goddamned DJ in the mix.”
Indeed, Foo Fighters have little in common with much of what you’re hearing on the radio these days (the less said about that the better), as big pop hooks anchor catchy, commercial-sounding songs such as “Breakout” and “Learn To Fly,” the album’s soaring first single. And though Dave Grohl has rocked both melodically (“This Is A Call”) and softly (“Big Me,” “Walking After You”) before, this is easily the least likely Foo Fighters album so far to have the words “alternative” or “grunge” associated with it. Grunge is dead, after all (or so everyone says), and while I for one miss the great early ‘90s likes of Nirvana, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden, Grohl has never been one to live in the past.
That said, this album has a classic rock influence that reaches back further than anything on their first two albums, and Grohl isn’t above borrowing from the past, introducing a Foghat-like riff on “Gimme Stitches” and a Frampton-styled talking fuzz box on “Generator.” Elsewhere, the band turns down the volume on the pleasingly mellow melodies of “Aurora,” “Next Year,” and “Ain’t It The Life,” while harder rocking tracks such as “Stacked Actors,” “Live-In Skin,” and “M.I.A.” likewise contain choruses that are highly melodic. Yet for all the album’s consistent quality it must be said that it could use a jolt of that old punk energy at times. Also, There Is Nothing Left To Lose, which was so named because the album was recorded before the band had a record label in place, offers consistently very good but no truly great songs aside from “Learn To Fly.” Still, this was another welcome installment by a maturing band that refuses to stay in one place, as Dave Grohl and company continue to build their own impressive legacy irrespective of Grohl’s glorious past.