I have written on many occasions that post-grunge is one of the few genres I hate as a whole genre, which is nothing I normally do. (I generally believe there are no “bad genres” but there are a few ’90s genres which make me want to reconsider that.) The Foo Fighters are more “rock” than most post-grunge bands so, theoretically, they pose a test for me, to see if I don’t hate the genre as a genre.
Grohl has improved as a songwriter since the debut. I still don’t think he is lyrically very good, but his melodies are strong and I have nothing to criticize there. But I would point out that a lack of melody is rarely a problem for most successful post grunge bands. Anyway, his songs are catchy and I suspect this is a main reason why the band has endured so long.
And the band itself is decent enough. I have never found them particularly compelling compared to my favourite rock bands, but they are good at what they do (though I suspect they are better live). As I wrote about their second record, Dave Grohl songs backed by an actual band are better than Dave Grohl songs backed by Dave Grohl playing every instrument (or most of them). Grohl would still benefit from having a better lead guitarist than himself but I guess beggars can’t be choosers.
My real issue with this record and, indeed, all post-grunge records is the production. Grohl likes to brag about how he won a Grammy even though this record was recorded in his basement. The problem, for me, is that it doesn’t sound like it was recorded in his basement! (And it should.) Like all other post-grunge artists, Grohl has neutered his sound by trying to make it sound as professional as possible. The notable exception on this record is his voice, which he occasionally takes to places where we can really feel his emotion. And in these instances, the listener is further reminded about how clean everything around his voice sounds. This is the post-grunge recipe: confessional, grunge-inspired lyrics with touches of grunge and other forms of alternative rock on the margins (to convince your ears you are listening to actual “alternative” rock), produced to death. And I don’t see how this record is much different.