I can't help thinking that Dave Grohl has shot himself in the foot by taking the drummer's seat in Queens of the Stone Age for this summer's monumental Songs for the Deaf, which towers so far over his own Foo Fighters offering that it's a little embarrassing to compare the two albums. The sessions for One by One were bisected by Grohl's stint with Qotsa (to the apparent displeasure of his fellow Foos). Like every group enamoured of their most recent work, they consider the resulting album their best yet, though more disinterested observers may lament the absence of material distinctive enough to stand alongside such earlier anthems as "This is a Call" and "Stacked Actors". The closest One by One comes to that impact is probably "Overdrive", in which a lyric about reconciliation – "Overdrive, we're going back again/ Two strangers on the mend" – rides a catchy pop-metal riff that lodges in the memory like few other tracks here. The album appears to follow a loose conceptual course dealing with the emotional ups and downs of a relationship, the protagonist veering sharply between the suffocation of "Have it All" and the acquiescence of "Disenchanted Lullaby", which finds him acknowledging, "I may be shallow/ What does it matter/ No one has a fit like I do/ I'm the only one that fits you". But there's little difference in style, whatever the attitude on a particular song: even when one opens in comparatively quiet, reflective manner, it concludes with much the same intense clangor as all the others.
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