In Your Honor
Marking a full decade since the band’s self-titled debut, Foo Fighters’ 2005 double album In Your Honor showcases their impressive development by contrasting a rock-driven first half with an acoustic and remarkably diverse second half. The latter sprang from acoustic demos Dave Grohl had cut in reaction to touring behind 2002’s heavier-than-usual One by One, alongside the revelation that at age 36 he had now been playing music full-time for half of his life. Also knowing that he has more range than people give him credit for—“I can write a bossa nova, I can write a thrash tune”—Grohl and co. embarked upon 20 songs that proved that point once and for all. “Can you hear me? Hear me screaming?” he asks on the opening title track, an arena-sized act of catharsis that only builds in intensity. We can indeed hear Grohl screaming on the track, before the Foos launch into some of their flashiest interplay to date. From there, “No Way Back” breaks away with added momentum before “Best of You” arrives to instantly take its place as one of the band’s signature anthems. Written in Grohl’s garage after he spent time on the 2004 campaign trail with Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, the song is as inspiring as it is universal. The remainder of the first disc is equally solid, from the melody-struck power pop of “DOA” and the two-minute thrasher “Hell” to the lighter and more jangly “Resolve”, which could easily have slotted onto that first record. The same can be said of “Still”, opening the second disc with the murmured intimacy of a bedroom recording. Yet there’s more to the back half of In Your Honor than stripped-down solo ballads. Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones lends moody embellishment via piano on “Miracle” and mandolin on “Another Round”, while Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme adds glistening acoustic guitar to the closing “Razor”. “Friend of a Friend” dates all the way back to when Grohl first joined Nirvana, and the rootsy “Cold Day in the Sun” sees drummer Taylor Hawkins taking lead vocal duties. And fulfilling that aforementioned promise, Grohl gets his bossa nova wish with the Norah Jones duet “Virginia Moon”, pairing delicate finger-picking with Jones’ breezy piano. It may be a world away from the first disc, but by the end of the song it makes perfect sense.