Release Date: September 15
The Foo Fighters‘ ninth album, Concrete and Gold, finds the band doing business as usual. Similar to their past releases they stick with what they know: rocking the hell out. Though they don’t take many risks here, they do give us a fined-tuned focused LP, something they failed to achieve on Sonic Highways.
The album opens with the Queen-esque “T-Shirt.” Grohl quietly croons while soft acoustic music accompanies him. The song takes a left turn when the music explodes and the harmonies kick in. It ramps up the energy and prepares you for what’s about to come. “Run” already proved to be a gem when the band released it back in June. Starting with some light guitar strumming, it doesn’t take long for things to get chaotic. Everything from the guitars to the intense percussion sounds like it’s ready to burst. It’s a rousing track that makes you want to get up and break something.
“The Sky is a Neighborhood” is a slow-burning song that has a larger than life vibe. The music is thick and the choir-like vocals, with some help from Alison Mosshart, give it an anthemic feel. It’s not the best track on the LP, but it’s one that grows on you over time. Despite its silly title “La Dee Da” is a live fast and die young type of song. Grohl snarls during the chorus while the music behind him rages and drives forward. It’s an energetic song that kicks things into high gear. “The Line” is another high-energy track that instantly grabs you with its catchy hook and melody. Something about Grohl crooning “Like you-ooo-oh-ooo” is satisfying and sticks with you long after the song is over.
One aspect of the record no one stopped talking about were the guest stars. Honestly, they don’t make much of a difference. You can’t even tell when one crops up and their input is minor. The secret huge pop star guest Justin Timberlake does light backing vocals on the jam-infused “Make It Right” and unless you’re well versed on all thing Paul McCartney you wouldn’t be able to tell a Beatle is behind the drumkit on “Sunday Rain.” And you barely notice Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men harmonizing with Grohl on the title track. This doesn’t make or break songs, but it’s disappointing. With how much the band spoke about it, you’d think they would play a bigger role on the record.
Unlike their previous effort, which felt a bit disjointed, the album is well balanced. There’s never a solid block of loud fast songs or slow ballads. Even when the band takes things slow, they never lose their momentum. “Dirty Water” begins with mellow, bright strumming of an acoustic guitar putting you at ease before turning into a mass of noise by the song’s end. “Arrows” and “Happy Ever After (Zero Hour)” follow a similar style where the majority of the track is soft, but amps up near the end. It ensures listeners won’t grow bored of these ballads and keeps the excitement going.
The same can’t be said for the last two tracks. “Sunday Rain,” which features Taylor Hawkins on vocals, drags on overstaying its welcome. Its big, booming sound and Hawkins’ vocals are reminiscent of a Roger Taylor led Queen song. The closing track “Concrete and Gold” ends the album on an underwhelming note. Again, it’s too slow and loses you after the first minute or so. It’s more likely to put you to sleep than excite you. There’s obviously a lot of heart in this song, but it doesn’t make it any more interesting.
Concrete and Gold is another solid release for the Foo Fighters. While it doesn’t place with classics like The Colour and Shape, it’s more memorable and focused than Sonic Highways. Just about every song is killer, with a couple of duds along the way. The band doesn’t stray far from what they know best, but since they are one of the most prolific bands in rock, they’re at least good at their job and it makes the album a blast to listen to.
3. Make It Right
4. The Sky Is a Neighborhood
5. La Dee Da
6. Dirty Water
8. Happy Ever After (Zero Hour)
9. Sunday Rain
10. The Line
11. Concrete and Gold