The seventh album for the Foo Fighters garnered them their second straight nomination for an Album of the Year Grammy and landed the long-popular group its first #1 on the Billboard album chart. The album marked the return of Pat Smear, who’d worked on 1997’s The Colour and the Shape. It was also significant for reuniting producer Butch Vig with Dave Grohl, the Foos frontman. They had previously worked together on Nirvana’s Nevermind when Grohl was that band’s drummer. That group’s bassist, Krist Novoselic, also makes an appearance here, playing bass on I Should Have Known.
Grohl called Wasting Light “their heaviest album yet,” WK a sentiment echoed by All Music Guide’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine when he calls it “the fiercest album they’ve ever made” AMG and “the kind of record they’ve always seemed on the verge of delivering but never have.” AMG Amazon.com called it the “band’s finest hour” AZAZ who is now “stripping itself down to the bare essentials.” AZNME magazine’s Rob Parker said the album is “the pure sound of the band being the band.” WK
The album was “recorded entirely on analog tape in the garage of Grohl’s home in California's San Fernando Valley. The no computers/no software back to basics approach has resulted in arguably the strongest and most cohesive effort of the band’s 15-year-plus career.” AZ As Grohl said, “There’s poetry in being the band that can sell out Wembley but also makes a record in a garage.” WK
Amanda Petrusich of Entertainment Weekly called the album “a muscular rock & roll throwdown” WK and commended its “catchy, pummeling anthems.” WKQ magazine’s Paul Brannigan said Wasting Light was “the most life-affirming, positively-charged album of [Grohl’s] career.” WK
Among the album’s highlights are “first single Rope to the frenetic opener Bridge Burning to the beautifully bipolar These Days.” AZ Bob Mould offers a “killer cameo on Dear Rosemary” AMG in which the “the Hüsker Dü frontman’s patented growl slides into the Foo Fighters’ roar.” AMG
Grohl also shows the influence of working with Josh Homme in Queens of the Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures. White Limo is “a blast of heave sleaze” AMG that makes for a nice homage to “Homme’s tightly defined muscle.” AMG
In contrast, “things tend to crawl on the ballads, as they usually do on a Foos record, but these slower spots have a stately dignity that contrasts well with the untrammeled rock of the rest of the album.” AMG
Criticism of the album, focused on the group’s arena-sized audiences. The Guardian’s Dave Simpson said the album was “a typically supersized arena-rock barrage, with lots of howling and wailing, every chorus tailored to imaginary walls of pyrotechnics and some tracks seemingly constructed to accommodate a guitar spot or drum solo.” WK Ironically, other critics blasted the band for trying to hard pull away from its arena-rock sound. Kevin Liedel of Slant magazine criticized the Foos’ “growing aversion to anthemic songs” WK while Pitchfork’s David Bevan said, “There just isn’t a melody or hook to really amplify.” WK