Dave Grohl is a rich, successful man but is pining for something else. Like fellow Springfield native Montgomery Burns'quest to locate long-lost childhood toy, Bobo the bear, Grohl is grasping into the past trying to recreate simpler days. Dave hasn't been sleeping well, disturbing his wife at night with mournful murmurs of "Everlong... ngggh, I'll Stick Around... nnngghh, My Hero..." Mrs Grohl had been afraid poor Dave was suffering from aphasia (look it up), but Dave's ailment is actually much more severe: Weezer-itis, wherein an artist continues to be massively successful commercially despite not having released a good record since the 1990s.

And so we arrive at this: Wasting Light, Foo Fighters "back to basics" album, for which the band decamped to Grohl's garage with producer Butch Vig (Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins) to record a balls-out rock album exclusively onto analogue tape. Former member and one-time Germ (and Nirvana member) Pat Smear is also now fully re-integrated back into the band. Make no mistake, Grohl is going old school and is on a one-way course back to the 90s to find his missing stuffed bear.

The album starts strongly with 'Bridge Burning', the first line of which Grohl screams, "These are my famous last words!" It's as though he knows he's in the last chance saloon in his bid to create an album worthy of the band's earlier efforts. The song breezes by enjoyably and is followed by single, 'Rope', a fun, jerky pop song with a lovely, catchy chorus.

But Wasting Light becomes a patchier affair from there on in. Bob Mould of Husker Hüsker Dü fame sings and adds guitar to 'Dear Rosemary', the first of the record's two big collaborations. Unfortunately the song is a plodding, mid-tempo trudge not worthy of Mould's stature. 'I Should Have Known', featuring Grohl's fellow Nirvana alumnus Krist Novoselic, is much better; a plaintive ballad that does well to strip back the bombast that sometimes afflicts other parts of the album.

In terms of being a supposed return to form, there are the songs on here to make a very good EP. But much of Wasting Light is filled with the kind of unmemorable, middle-of-the-road stodge that has dogged the band's entire catalogue. For every 'White Limo', a screeching, stomping rocker with "Weenie Beenie"-style distorted vocals (another nod to earlier days) there is a 'Back & Forth', a song so throwaway there's not much point picking it up in the first place.

'A Matter of Time' sounds like latter-day Hüsker Dü playing early Radiohead, and works well. 'These Days' recalls the pseudo-new wave sounds of There's Nothing Left to Lose's 'Headwires', but foists a chorus upon it that recalls 'Learn to Fly', arguably Foo Fighters most banal moment.'Miss the Misery' misses its 90s target and winds up somewhere back in the 1980s, sounding like a bad Mother Love Bone b-side.

Overall, Wasting Light is what we've come to expect from Foo Fighters. It's an FM rock record that will receive a lot of airplay. Many people will buy it, and the band will continue to play to hundreds of thousands of people. But we're still firmly in the 21st century here. It isn't The Colour and the Shape. It doesn't have a 'My Hero' or an 'Everlongâ' or a 'Stacked Actors'. Sadly, it's no Bobo the bear.