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Foo'd for contemplation

June 12, 2005|Steve Appleford

Foo Fighters

"In Your Honor" (RCA)

* * * 1/2

Dave GROHL is not your average rocker. He's a hard-rock lifer with a genuine soft side, a platinum-selling frontman and dependable hit-maker who's still happy to be a drummer for hire in bands that interest him (Queens of the Stone Age, Nine Inch Nails, etc.). The man is also a great singles artist, every year or two delivering a memorable new track to the airwaves. But since the revelation of the Foo Fighters' 1995 debut he hasn't been able to sustain that quality for an entire album. Until now.

Now he's got something more than a monumental greatest-hits collection in his future. "In Your Honor" (in stores Tuesday) might have been a setup for failure, with 20 new tracks spread across two discs, but instead it's a document of renewed inspiration. Loud, anthemic, joyous and bitter ("This is the last song I will dedicate for you!"), it's easily the best Foo Fighters album in a decade.

Grohl is not breaking much new ground here but merely delivering the kind of tuneful, straight-ahead rock and contemplative balladry that's always been his raging comfort zone. "DOA" is sly and taunting, Grohl's voice set against urgent riffs and the beats of MVP drummer Taylor Hawkins. "The Deepest Blues Are Back" is wistful and jangly; quieter songs recall both Neil Young and acoustic Zeppelin, Grohl's voice understated or raging and vulnerable, wounded.

On "Virginia Moon," he even croons with Norah Jones over a bossa nova rhythm. Which is just one more surprise adding up to a fine album, and with even more to offer than that inevitable greatest-hits record.

Steve Appleford

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.

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