Dave Grohl and co. return with an intriguing and experimental ninth studio album
Almost 25 years in, 8 albums, selling out stadiums for fun, Foo Fighters are quite simply one of the biggest rock bands in the world and have been for quite some time. Now, it’s time for the band’s ninth studio album which comes in the (colour) and shape of Concrete and Gold.
I believe it would be fair to say that ever since the first three Foo’s albums, they have largely been a singles band (well, with the exception of 2011’s Wasting Light which was a superb return to form and what I believe to be a close second to The Colour and The Shape as their best work). When Foo Fighters get it right, their music epitomises anthemic rock, however, in the last decade or so there has been plenty of filler. Their previous effort Sonic Highways is perhaps the clearest example of this, with the album being a disappointment in my opinion, which was a shame because the partner HBO series was outstanding. Concrete and Gold came relatively out of nowhere, seeing as the band was supposedly going on an extended hiatus but it now appears as if they just couldn’t stop. On the whole, this album is a shift stylistically and does seem fairly experimental. They’ve harked back to a more classic rock sound and they even brought in pop producer Greg Kurstin (known for Adele, Sia) to spice things up.
The first five songs on Concrete and Gold are top drawer and they set off the album with a colossal bang. The opener, T-Shirt, is really a great way to open the album; it starts very mellow, (similarly to Doll from The Colour and The Shape) but it bursts into life halfway through and it sounds very fresh and exciting, before delightfully transitioning into the second track and first single from the album, Run. When I first heard Run I loved it and it flows just as well within the album; the raw vocals from Grohl, a massive chorus and a killer riff are ingredients for any great Foo Fighters track. The energy continues into the next track and my personal favourite Make It Right. A funky AC/DC-esque riff opens it up, with rough, classic rock vocals from Grohl in the verses. The groove and energy of this song are wonderful (and listen out for Justin Timberlake’s concealed backing vocals in the bridge and outro of the song too). The second single from the album follows next, The Sky is a Neighbourhood. This is a song that has grown on me massively since initially hearing it, the harmonies really stand out and that chorus is tremendously infectious. The last song of the first five is La Dee Da which is a fuzzy, swaggering track and undeniably a standout on the album, with harsh vocals in the chorus from Grohl similar to that of the vigorous White Limo from Wasting Light.
It is, however, after La Dee Da where the album does take a slight downhill turn. Dirty Water is somewhat bland despite the solid riff which enters in the middle of the track. Arrows isn’t bad by any means but it comes and goes and doesn’t stand out too much. Happy Ever After doesn’t do anything for me, it sounds like an acoustic track from the second half of In Your Honour and isn’t a track I’d come back to. Drummer, Taylor Hawkins, has always been a favourite within the band, and during their live shows, he typically becomes the frontman for a song or two. Hawkins must’ve been tired of singing Cold Day in the Sun every night, and on the forecast this time is Sunday Rain. Special guest Paul McCartney takes the drumming role and Hawkins brings his unique vocals to it. The track is decent but it must be said that a 6-minute runtime renders it a bit tiresome. Track ten, The Line is certainly the highlight from the second half of the album. Grohl’s vocals are seriously good and the song has a Best of You vibe to it with guitars that are reminiscent of the likes of Kings of Leon. The closing and title track Concrete and Gold is definitely more concrete than gold. The track is a bit lethargic and one I personally don’t get much from, especially compared to other final tracks from Foo’s previous albums (Walk and New Way Home for example), but I could see how some would enjoy it.
All in all, Concrete and Gold is a major improvement from Sonic Highways and is generally quite interesting. You can certainly hear it’s more of an experiment but I believe if they stick with it, the next album will be more consistent and exciting. Nevertheless, there are still some killer tracks on this album and it’s well worth listening to.