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Foo Fighters - One By One

Best Modern Rock Album

The following was originally published in our Buzz or Hype section. 

Review by Dan Grote
If there’s one word that can describe the Foo Fighters’ music best, it’s consistent. Their music is consistently played on modern rock radio, the band’s three previous albums have consistently sold well (not a one under platinum), and their songs, good for about three singles an album, are consistently enjoyable.

Of course, that’s the Foo Fighters’ music, not the Foo Fighters themselves. The band’s latest album, One by One, is Dave Grohl’s fourth Foo Fighters album, Nate Mendel’s third (though technically an original member of the band, Grohl hired his band after recording the first album), Taylor Hawkins’ second (original drummer William Goldsmith left shortly after the sessions for 1997’s The Colour and the Shape), and Chris Shifflet’s first (Shifflet is the band’s third rhythm guitarist, taking the place of Pat Smear and Franz Stahl).

However, it’s more likely than not safe to say that the band’s line-up has finally solidified, giving Dave Grohl plenty of freedom in the past year or two to… do everything but Fight Foo. With the exception of a movie soundtrack single in the beginning the year (Orange County’s, “The One”), Grohl’s most notable new millennium projects have not involved his current band. These projects include waging a battle against Courtney Love over the rights to release an unreleased Nirvana song, as well as drumming for both Tenacious D and the Queens of the Stone Age.

So the question is: Does Dave still have the touch when it comes to his day job? Well, surprisingly enough, the answer is yes. With One by One, the Foo Fighters have put out the hardest rocking record of their career, even when you recognize the distortion-punk wonderland that was Grohl’s 1995 debut. If nothing else, One by One is a far cry from the pop-infused VH1 rock of 1999’s There Is Nothing Else to Lose.

From the lead track/single, “All My Life,” the Foo’s let loose a modern rock assault that announces their return to business as usual. Grohl experiments with his songwriting technique a little, changing the soft verse/loud chorus dynamic to explore fast-singing his lyrics: “All my life I’ve been searching for something / something never comes, never leads to nothing / nothing’s what I what feel when I’m getting close, closer to the prize at the end of the rope.”

“Low” acts a great follow-up, with speedy guitars explaining that the darker sound of the first song was not a fluke. Gone are the quick and quirky songs of the Foo Fighters’ previous efforts. There are no “Big Me”’s, “For All the Cows”’ or “To See You”’s on One by One, no excuses for Dave and Taylor to dress up like women again.

There are more good songwriting moments though, as when Grohl says on “Disenchanted Lullaby”: “No one has a fit like I do / I’m the only one that fits you.” Then there is “Tired of You,” Grohl’s Brian May-assisted declaration of fidelity, built around the mantra, “I won’t go getting tired of you.”

VERDICT: Time and rock radio will determine this album’s final fate, but the fact of the matter is that One by One is the strongest showing the Foo Fighters have put forth in their seven-year career, with darker songs that don’t put the band’s previous work to shame but instead prove the band has a range that goes beyond goofy videos and screamer choruses. Don’t be mistaken, the goofy videos and screamer choruses are great; “Monkeywrench,” “I’ll Stick Around,” and “Breakdown” are great songs, but this is good too.

CD Info 

Foo Fighters - One By One
Label: RCA Records
All My Life 
Have It All 
Times Like These (One-Way Motorway) 
Burn Away 
Lonely As You 
Disenchanted Lullaby 
Come Back
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