The last year has been unkind to the Foo Fighters. Disappointing albums, broken legs and underwhelming twentieth-anniversary tours have plagued the outfit. With the surprise release of a five-song EP, Saint Cecilia, can the band bring themselves back up to their usual lofty standards?
Saint Cecilia (named after the hotel these songs were recorded in) is, in many ways, a return to form for the band. Returning is a strong theme throughout the album, the band are at their best doing what they do here, which is simple rock ‘n’ roll delivered with energy and a little bit of bite.
Opener ‘Saint Cecilia’ sets this tone pretty well – it doesn’t provide anything we haven’t heard before from the band, but it doesn’t really have to. The standard quiet verse-loud chorus-repeat-guitar solo structure is an overused formula that the band revel in, whilst Grohl’s lyrics fit into that classic rock and roll feel.
I was admittedly expecting a much more frenetic song to open the EP – ‘Saint Cecilia’ is a good song but doesn’t quite have the energy of following track ‘Sean’, which has a unashamed swagger that is simply infectious and doesn’t overstay its welcome (at just over 2 minutes). There isn’t a massive amount to say about this song honestly; it keeps things very simple and effective and carries the flow of the EP into the next track.
If you were looking for a good song to mosh to, this release may have one of the best songs released this year. ‘Saviour Breath’ has more bite than a hungry T-rex, and is twice as aggressive. It dabbles in the speed metal genre a bit, whilst Grohl’s vocals call back to 2011’s White Limo. This is easily the best song on the EP, and seems like it was destined to be featured on the latest Mad Max movie. You can literally see a cast of colourful machine gun-wielding characters driving and shooting each other on Fury Road whilst listening to this song.
The EP comes to a speed bump with ‘Iron Rooster’, a meandering song that honestly doesn’t do much for me. It’s not bad or anything it just isn’t really that interesting and breaks the flow of the EP after the adrenaline shot that was ‘Saviour Breath’.
Fortunately, things pick back up again with closer ‘The Neverending Sigh’. Whilst not quite up to the excitement levels of ‘Saviour Breath’, it’s still got quite a kick to it with a great riff and more of those harsher vocals from Grohl. The song and EP close with Grohl growling ‘No one lets everyone in’ – I’m not quite sure what he’s getting at but it’s a memorable line and a fine way to close the EP.
There isn’t a massive amount to say about the EP beyond looking at the individual merits of the songs: to put it simply, it’s the Foo Fighters doing what they do best. These songs are supposedly from the cutting floor of the band’s previous albums and it shows here – I can see most of these songs appearing as B-sides on past hits or even slotting directly into some albums. It’s definitely worth a listen (and download – it IS free) and will please those who may have felt short-changed by last year’s Sonic Highways.