For Foo Fighters’ eighth album, Dave Grohl, inspired by the success of his 2013 Sound City documentary, decided to record each song in a different American city. He spent time interviewing local music legends from all genres, letting their thoughts and stories seep into the songs. (The whole process was also turned into the TV series Sonic Highways.)
It’s a cool premise, but despite the ambition and guest musicians on each song, Sonic Highways sounds like every other Foo Fighters record: exploding with throat-bulging angst, commercial rock song craft and slick, airless production. Congregation stands out for its energy and briskness, and What Did I Do?/God As My Witness for its stirring melody set against jangly guitars.
Final song I Am A River seems to hold the promise of something gentler and more abstract, but by the end turns into a histrionic ballad with melodramatic strings and Grohl once again screaming his lungs out, leaving you feeling nothing.
Top track: What Did I Do?/God As My Witness
The Foo Fighters play the Molson Amphitheatre on July 8 and 9.