Having commemorated their tenth anniversary with a year-plus run commencing with In Your Honor (a double album the New York Times called an "unexpected magnum opus"), sold out rock arena shows and a toned down intimate theater trek, and a headlining gig at London's Hyde Park for a crowd of 85,000, the question looms larger than any in the Foo Fighters' career to date: What do they do for an encore?!? The answer comes in the form of "The Pretender," the first single from the band's sixth studio album Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, out on Roswell/RCA. Produced by Gil Norton, who last worked with the band on 1997's double-platinum The Colour and The Shape (recently reissued in deluxe 10th anniversary form), Dave Grohl, bassist Nate Mendel, drummer Taylor Hawkins and guitarist Chris Shiflett have crafted a 12-track milestone that showcases and reconciles the band's every strength and sensibility in the most complex and confident Foo Fighters album to date.
Dave Grohls sixth album fronting post-grunge rockers Foo Fighters finds him softening his game somewhat, although not in the manner of 2005s In Your Honour, which countered the Foos stadium metal moves with a second disc of acoustic songs. Rather, Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace sees Grohl taking cues from his beloved Led Zeppelin, penning a record that incorporates muscular rock shapes with piano ballads ("Statues"), picked acoustic moments ("Come Alive") and free-wheeling, classic-tinged jams like "Summers End"--a song about romantic dalliances in the "sweet Virginia countryside". While its undoubtedly a mature sort of record for the Foo Fighters, however, thats not to say that their edge has been blunted. With the band reunited with producer Gil Norton, whose skill for quiet/loud dynamics did a lot for 1997s The Colour and the Shape, tracks like "The Pretender" and "Erase/Replace" are muscular, dynamic rockers that balance subtle, atmospheric moments with epic bursts of rage. The track "Cheer up Boys (Your Make-Up Is Running)", meanwhile, feels like a jibe at the emo hordes whove tried, but failed, to dislodge Grohls crown. Its the sound of a band growing into middle age gracefully. --Louis Pattison