The last three years have been an uninterrupted whirlwind of triumph, struggle and everything in between for one of the world’s biggest rock acts. The Foo Fighters’journey began with Sonic Highways, an ambitious undertaking that took 10 months to produce and incorporated no less than eight different studios in as many cities. After that, the quintet kicked off a world tour that chewed up most of 2015. And let’s not forget Dave Grohl’s broken leg back in June. Falling off the stage at a concert in Gothenburg, Sweden, he was rushed to a hospital only to return an hour later to finish the gig.
With their tour slowly winding down, the Foos cap off the Sonic Highways era with Saint Cecilia, a surprise EP named after the hotel in Austin where it was recorded this fall. In a letter posted to the EP’s website, Grohl solemnly dedicates the music “to all who were affected by the atrocities in Paris” on November 13. At the same time, he strikes a more healing tone when he describes the new recordings as a “celebration of life and music.”
The mix of grief and hope, resignation and determination, in the touching letter reverberates throughout the EP’s five cuts. The title track is vintage Foos: anxious insecurity duking it out with steely optimism. “Bring me some healing, Saint Cecilia. Carry me home to your house of broken bones,” Grohl pleads, striking a balance between strife both personal and universal. With its Kurt Cobain-flavored title, “Savior Breath” is pure piss and vinegar; the groove is nasty punk, while Pat Smear’s hot licks recall ’70s rock. Edgy and angry, “The Neverending Sigh” is cut from a similar cloth. The most unique moment arrives with “Iron Rooster,” a slow, spacey and deeply meditative country-rock tune that hopefully hints at a future direction for the group.
In many respects, Saint Cecilia — named after the patroness of musicians — recalls the Foos’ debut album. Both feel informal and introspective, with raw expression trumping faultless songcraft. This makes a lot of sense. After all, that first record was Grohl’s very personal way of coping with his own tragedy: the suicide of his dear friend and bandmate. The guy certainly knows a thing or two about recovering from loss, and it’s something he passionately wants to share with a world in turmoil.