Foo Fighters, 'Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace' (Roswell/RCA)

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Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace
Critical Mass
Label: Roswell/ RCA

by Kyle Anderson

Part of Nirvana's greatness stemmed from their volatility. The exact opposite can be said of Dave Grohl and his Foo Fighters. Since their 1995 debut, Grohl has been a model of steady efficiency, and Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace is another quality entry in a fantastically average career.

Two-thirds of these tracks sound a lot like songs Grohl has done before: "The Pretenders" is "Stacked Actors," even down to the lyrics decrying phonies; and if you've heard "My Hero," you've got a good idea what "Statues" sounds like. But Grohl sometimes experiments, and the handful of songs that deviate from the wallop'n'wail template keep the record afloat. "Summer's End" is a breezy blast of California country rock, and "Long Road to Ruin" flies jubilantly with a hook so gigantic you could land a hammerhead with it.

Most of Echoes rails against people who want to hold the singer down (which raises the question: Is anybody -- okay, besides Courtney -- really trying to oppress Dave Grohl?). The album's best song is "The Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners," a bluegrass instrumental that's an oasis amid the combative bluster. It's hard to criticize Grohl for his lack of innovation, because he's never wanted to start a revolution. But at this point, Foo Fighters' consistency has become predictability, and it threatens to trap them in the modern-rock ghetto, dangerously close to those guys in Hinder. KYLE ANDERSON

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