Being human — good, bad, indifferent — is what Wasting Light is all about. “Rope” drags you right in with Grohl’s intro, a chiming delayed guitar riff in the left channel followed by his doubled lead vocal and a full band onslaught. Then the song throws a curve with a dead stop halfway through before the pummeling returns, fueled by drummer Taylor Hawkins’ resonant, insistent cymbal crashing intertwined with further axe hammering from the Grohl, Chris Shiflett, and Pat Smear axis. The anthemic “These Days” unfolds with an understated Grohl vocal and is buttressed by Rush-meets-the-Cure guitar textures. “I Should Have Known,” Grohl’s most direct statement to date about the loss of Nirvana bandmate Kurt Cobain (and likely some other fallen comrades), benefits from the imprint of surviving Nirvana compatriot Krist Novoselic, who supplies both the bottom end and accordian, while strings from Jessy Greene and mellotron from Rami Jaffe contribute to its overall stark vibe. And after you’ve been sufficiently drained by that particularly cutting track, you get treated to “Walk,” the album’s uplifting and hopeful coda, which chimes in to cleanse the palate and close the album at a just-right 48 minutes.
That Light has garnered such immediate gut-level responses from a wide swath of listeners — whether consuming it via CD, download, or vinyl — has a lot to do with the tape-only recording approach. “To me, tape doesn’t lie,” Grohl states. “You can do as much as you can to make a performance sound great, but at the end of the day, it’s you. And that’s it. Digital recording equipment can be useful and handy, but it’s almost like Frodo’s ring — you don’t want to put it on the wrong person.” He chuckles, then adds, “The idea of using tape was to preserve the band’s personality.”
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