wasting nine types of light

i don’t know if this was done on purpose, but both the foo fighters and TV on the radio released albums with the word “light” in the title on the same day.

that’s the only thing they have in common.

i’d categorize myself as a fair-weather foo fighters fan. i have the first two albums, but even the second album has only a few tracks that make me go “ohmygodohmygodOHMYGOD!” the lead single off wasting light (“rope”) was so good, though, that i actually thought about buying it. then i read the rolling stone review and decided to go for it.

ohmygodohmygodOHMYGOD! ZOMG! almost every single track off this album is amazing. oh, and dave grohl

image via RCA

FINALLY vents some of his anger over his former bandmate’s untimely death. the songs get stuck in your head, particularly “bridge burning” and “arlandria” (plus “rope”. there’s a reason they made that song a single.)

i actually passed it over to the BF to listen to. i’m still waiting on his take. as a trained musician, he looks for something that’s, well…interesting. too much of modern rock music, he thinks, is repetitive. and he’s right. but there’s nothing repetitive about wasting light. the beats are jittery, grohl runs from a muttery growl up to a raging yell, and that edge, that sort of unpolished yet cohesive mess that was foo fighters has come back with a vengence and run amok all over this album.

image via interscope records

by contrast, nine types of light, called by that same issue of rolling stone TV on the radio’s most “accessible” album to date…what do they mean by “accessible”? it’s not radio friendly. their music has never really been radio friendly (with the exception of “wolf like me” off return to cookie mountain). that’s one of the reasons i love this band.

i’ve been a fan since i saw them open for the faint years ago. a friend of mine was less impressed, calling them “the whistling band” because the lead singer, tunde adebimpe, likes to whistle intros to most of the songs when they’re performing live. but i’d never heard anything like them, and i still haven’t.

this is a band that, to me, makes its music as a collective process. you can’t remove a single member from the entity, because it would otherwise not sound…whole. whereas the foo fighters, you could remove any member other than dave grohl, and you’d still have the foo fighters.

the problem i have with nine types is that none of the songs stood out. even without having a radio-ready single, over their albums, they’ve had songs that jump at you like “staring at the sun”, which sounds wicked awesome live, and “wolf like me”, “dirty whirlwind”, “dancing choose”, and “halfway home”. kind of like, well, singles would. but their whole albums sound seemless, no cracks, and it goes by so fast that when it ends you’ll be like, wuh? oh. time to play it again.

nine types of light is missing something. i can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s lacking that buzz, that sense you get when you listen to one of TVOTR’s albums that this is art, like a sypmphony is art, something that should be critiqued and dissected and put back together and ultimately, you give up trying to understand it because it’s beyond you (at which point you conclude it must be brilliant). not this time. this time, i stopped trying to understand because i didn’t care. it was actually…a little boring. yeah. a TVOTR album that was slightly boring. i never thought i’d say that.

i’ve listened to it a couple times. it’s still far and away better than most of the other horse pucky you’d hear on the radio today, but it’s well below the standard i’ve come to expect from TVOTR. but if you’re a TVOTR virgin, i’d go with return to cookie mountain.

oh, and damn the man. support your local record store and get your own copy of the foo fighter’s wasting light. trust me. it’ll be worth it.

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