By now, the story of the Foo Fighters' fourth album has been well-documented. There was drummer Taylor Hawkins' near demise from the dumbass cocktail of booze and painkillers last year, the scrapping of four months' worth of recordings, Dave Grohl's decision to play drums with stoner-rock kings Queens of the Stone Age, and the legal battles with Courtney Love over unreleased Nirvana recordings. Even the band's members figured the Foos had lost the fight and considered a surrender.
So, then, how to greet One by One -- as miracle or inevitable, as welcome return or inexplicable rebirth? All of the above, of course, and then some. From so much chaos arrives 55 minutes of music so forceful, you're left to wonder if One by One would have been worth half a damn were it not for so much bad shit happening to a good band.
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Doubtful, since Grohl's "a new day rising," a man learning not how to fly, but how to live and love, as he brazenly sings on "Times Like These." Like the man sings on "All My Life": "Nothing satisfies, but I'm gettin' closer/Closer to the prize at the end of the rope." Only now -- after three discs of samey-same arena-alterna, each possessing its handful of brilliant moments but only one, the second album, wholly satisfying -- he's determined to keep from being at the end of that rope. One by One finds Grohl, at long last, chasing his own legacy. This is where he finds his voice, where he calls Brian May and plays Queen for a day, where he dips into the pool of prog, where he makes rock for the arena and the bedroom, where he sacrifices The Single for the monstrous whole.