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Volume 68, Issue 46, Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Arts & Entertainment

Foo Fighters move on with love songs

By Ed De La Garza
The Daily Cougar

It's unfair to compare Dave Grohl to Kurt Cobain. No matter what he does, Grohl will never have the same kind of impact. But it's inescapable especially when a new Nirvana album (albeit a greatest hits collection) hits the shelves a week after the Foo Fighters' One By One.

Allusions to Cobain aren't likely to end with the Foo's new album, but Grohl and bandmates don't seem to care and with good reason. With One By One, the Foo Fighters have finally evolved into a full-on band instead of just the Dave Grohl players.

The album, the band's first since 1999's There Is Nothing Left To Lose, is equal parts post-grunge, pop, bombastic arena rock, metal and folk rock. It's also the Foo Fighters' best album since its 1995 debut. On that album, Grohl played all the instruments.

Foo Fighters' Chris Shiflett (left), Dave Grohl, Nate Mendel and Taylor Hawkins latest One By One have finally become a band in all respects.
Anthony Corbijn/ RCA Records

It was his moment, and subsequent albums have left one wishing he'd do it again. But Taylor Hawkins (drums), Nate Mendel (bass) and new member Chris Shiflett (guitar) prove to be more than capable of keeping up with Grohl.

Even when they let grunge trickle in, it's only used as a base. Despite titles like "Low," "Disenchanted Lullaby," "Tired Of You" and "Lonely As You," One By One never sinks into murkiness.

The album's first single, "All My Life," which owes more to the Pixies than it does to Nirvana, has the band playing at a feverish pace while Grohl repeats "Done, done, I'm on to the next one." The key word to this song is guitar. It's not your average three-note ditty. Stacked up against the album's epic closer "Come Back," one realizes this is not the average Foo Fighters album.

It's easy to dissect Grohl's words and instill them with references to Cobain and Courtney Love, but at its heart, One By One is basically a collection of love songs with longing, romance, retribution and resiliency as its main themes.

On the straight pop of "Times Like These," Grohl's voice soars over jangly guitars: "It's times like these you learn to love again/ I'm a new day rising/ I'm a brand new sky to hang the stars upon tonight."

With the 1970s power-ballad-sounding "Disenchanted Lullaby," Grohl sounds like a desperate soul singing "I may be scattered/ What does it matter?/ No one has a fit like I do/ I'm the only one that fits you." He captures the feeling with dead-on accuracy.

Hawkins' overdose and stay in a rehabilitation clinic could have given the band ample material for an album heavy on drug metaphors. But the Foo Fighters aren't pretentious. They don't preach, and they don't wallow in self-pity.

The epic surge of "Come Back" finds Grohl stating "I've got nothing to prove/ Keep me alive and give me something to lose ... I will come back for you." Four albums after stepping out of the shadows, Grohl's shown he has nothing left to prove. He's the one that made it through.

That's probably the main reason one can't compare Grohl to Cobain. Cobain used music as catharsis. Grohl uses it as a vehicle for expression. If he's not careful, people may begin looking to him for inspiration.

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