Foo Fighters – In Your Honor

Foo FightersIn Your Honor [Copy Protected “to protect the artist rights“] (RCA)

In Your Honor, the fifth release by the Foo Fighters, is a double-album recipe of the band’s familiar rock – a collection that Dave Grohl primed for the band’s tenth anniversary. The first disc is up-tempo and electric, and features both the first single (“Best of You”) and an unrelenting wall of distorted guitar. The second is a gentler, more acoustic ride of whispering, finger-picking, and Norah Jones; waifish piano pixies aside, these conflicting elements are what make the band’s best tunes so enchanting (and Grohl’s suavely self-deprecating media sound bytes so forgivable).

But In Your Honor contains no new showstoppers – each disc seems to only contain one very long song. The splitting-atoms approach is a novel one, but it’s hardly as ambitious as Foo crew wishes, because it obliterates their ability to write catchy hooks. Without the soft, Side One is a scream-happy parade of resentment and vaguely Buddhist generalities, sped along with smoking guitars that never simmer and choruses that are indistinguishable from the verses. Guitars don’t pause for those soaring, Zeppelin-worshipping melodic lines, and Grohl’s shredded screams lose their impact because they never recede. The instruments lose their duality as additional vocal presences and settle for being a barrage of 4-4 noise, not unlike a certain rambunctious side project of Grohl’s – but devoid of the self-deprecation. Call it “Breakfast at Tenacious D’s.”

Side Two is immediately a little more welcoming, as it experiments more with tempo and even gives drummer/bleach ad Taylor Hawkins a turn at the microphone (“Cold Day in the Sun”). Still, the collective seems content to blend together in one sweetess-and-tenderness supermedley, a long bout of brushed drums and singsong vocals that lack any engaging urgency. The Jones/Grohl duet “Virginia Moon” creeps along as an eerie “Girl From Ipanema” rip-off, one sadly reminiscent of the elevator-muzak “Big Me” parody the Foos used in their “Monkey Wrench” video. But again, they’re serious, and it’s 40-plus minutes of their Art. (It’s a big A now.) And as with its guns-blazing counterpart, the second disc relies on monotonously broad lyrics that never gain footing.

For such a long musical offering, In Your Honor still manages to say little – and as double punishment, this comes from a group with an amazing back catalogue of affecting hits (though “Times Like These,” if I never hear you again…). The self-aware simplicity proves that the Foo Fighters reign when their elements unified and the sour is allowed to provide sweet. Grohl would sound gorgeous singing the phone book, but boring instrumentation and vocals leave him as just another talking head. And that’s nothing worth fighting for.

10 thoughts on “Foo Fighters – In Your Honor”

  1. Wow, great review. The most I ever read about the Foo Fighters is broad hatred for their brand of arena-rock, but you actually go a little deeper and find more to talk about. I have to say, I was at one point a huge Foo Fighters fan, and I still respect Dave Grohl a helluva lot (to this day, the best live performer I’ve ever seen). But I kinda lost them with One By One and don’t think I’m gonna pick this up either. The Colour and Shape is the best amalgam of their hard rock/balladry, Grohl’s clearly at the top of his game on that album (“Everlong”, “Walking After You”, “Hey! Johnny Park”, “February Stars”, etc). Sad to see him fade. Again, good work.

  2. Tom, you’re right that The Colour and the Shape is a great album, and FF’s finest hour, but can anyone deny that “My Hero” is the best Foo Fighters song?

  3. 2005 we still have Foo Fighters kicking more ass every album.This one by far shows there most Talent!!This DOUBLE cd is so amazing I can’t stop listening to it!!If you pick it up you might come across stuck on it like me!!Each song if mind blowing!!

    It sets the mood for your day…you got one ROCK!!!and one can’t go wrong!!!

  4. Best Foo song is “Walking After You.” No contest.

    p.s. “Breakfast at Tenacious D’s” is the fucking best line in a review ever. I’m stealing that one.

  5. The first disc is so forgetable, but I’ll listen to the acoustic side every so often. “Friend of a Friend” is from the old Pocketwatch songs that Dave recorded around his time with Nirvana, and if you download those songs, it’s a good chance you’ll enjoy it even if you don’t like the Foo as of late.

    And the copy protection can be bypassed by holding down Shift for a few seconds as you load the CD, of course.

  6. The only song from “In your Honour” that I’ve heard is “Best of You”, which I absolutely love! So I bought the double disc (inc. the doco dvd) a few hours ago and now have decided to look at the reviews. How silly of me. I haven’t even had a listen yet and am already slightly disappointed. I hope I enjoy it! I hope I disagree with all those terrible reviews! But nevertheless I love and respect Dave Grohl and will forever cherish all the the beautiful moments I’ve had with many foo songs.

  7. Billy – Thanks for the comment on how to bypass the copy protection. The Foo Fighters are somewhat ridiculous in some of their beliefs (do they still think that AIDS is not caused by HIV) as their website used to say.

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