Album Reviews: In Your Honor by Foo FightersTen years into his fruitful post-Nirvana life as Head Foo Fighter, Dave Grohl has made the album that he hopes will go down as his Physical Graffiti -- an entry point for the ages, a gift that future fathers will bestow to tomorrow's children. To further enhance his 20-song, double-disc In Your Honor for posterity, Grohl enlisted Norah Jones, Josh Homme, and, holy crap, Zeppelin's very own John Paul Jones.
The idea is that the first disc contains the wrath and the verve and the second disc contains the tenderness and fragility. The title track kicks the journey off in impressive fashion, with Grohl screaming pledges over a coldly distant wall of guitars. Taylor Hawkins comes in with a galloping beat, and the song builds to a satisfying if slightly anticlimactic finish, aided as always by Grohl's charismatic intensity ("In your honor I would die tonight"). It's a powerful mission statement, sweet but also solemn, hard-edged and lacking in friendly pop appeal.
The Foos then quickly kiss and make up with their radio fans, offering one slab of innocuous alternative rock after another. "Best Of You" is the strongest of the band's recent singles, and "DOA" packs a similarly infectious punch. Most of the rest of the first disc is lukewarm, a disappointment for an album that -- with its quieter siblings isolated on a separate disc -- was supposed to be so full of piss and vinegar. Grohl cuts loose in "Free Me," but otherwise there's nothing that even approximates the raw-nerve seething of back catalog tracks like "I'll Stick Around."
Compared to the acoustic second disc, of course, the first disc sounds like Cannibal Corpse. The somnolence begins with the droning "Still," then moves on through lightweight fluff like "Miracle" and go-nowhere story-songs like "Friend of a Friend." Grohl courts Jones' easy-listening audience on the pleasantly yawning "Virginia Moon," then defiantly closes with the finest song on the album, the forcefully stark "Razor."
An average, C-grade Foo Fighters song still works well on a fundamental level, the sort of sturdily built song that's wholly unobjectionable when it pops up on the radio or bar jukebox. This is doubly true for males in the 20-to-30 range, many of whom have spent some happy moments in life pretending to be Dave Grohl, whether while bludgeoning a steering wheel to "In Bloom" or while playing air guitar and shouting along to "Everlong." Those kinds of bonds are built to last. In Your Honor, unfortunately, largely is not. - Adam McKibbin
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