I’m currently listening to Foo Fighters 2005 double-album, In Your Honor, and for some reason, it feels like a chore. Foo Fighters has been a perennial-favorite band around these parts, but, starting with There’s Nothing Left to Lose, each album gets increasingly more disappointing. and that’s ironic, because the band’s popularity and mainstream success seems to be inversely proportional to its slide toward mediocrity.
I don’t know if Dave and company are simply having a shortage of ideas or if it’s a matter of production values. My general feeling is that it’s the latter. The songwriting is generally on the up-and-up though there’s nothing like everlong or oh, george or even stacked actors, but In Your Honor, much like One by One before it, gives off the strong impression of being over-produced. Not so much on the acoustic second disc, but the first “hard rock” disc reeks of it. The mixing just plain smells bad and dave’s vocals are lost in the mud.
The first few Foo Fighters albums benefited from the rough edges provided by Dave Grohl doing all the work himself. Those records have an caution-to-the-wind, do-it-yourself spirit, and were even released on Dave’s own label (Roswell records). but most importantly, they were a little bit quirky and a lot of fun.
Somewhere during the There’s Nothing Left to Lose era, however, it seems that the band somehow earned corporate credibility. It even won a Grammy for Best Rock Album. I’m not the kind of person who cries "sellout!" when someone finds success, but it’s around this time that Foo Fighters’ sound and attitude changed, becoming more polished and increasingly likely to be the "go to" band for "mainstream media" rock events. In 2006, it’s really not that hard to imagine Foo Fighters splitting the bill with Aerosmith to headline a Superbowl halftime show. Oooo, I know that’s cold, but think about it, would you be surprised by that?
If i were a meaner person, I might suggest that the band has intentionally watered-down its sound in order to court commercial success (c’mon, a duet with norah jones??). But I’m not that guy. I’d rather just listen to the music and hope that the band turns it around.