After hearing The Sky is a Neighbourhood, I was excited to hear the rest of Concrete and Gold. From the opening soft harmonised vocals, to the raspy entrance of Dave Grohl's vocals and the simple pulsating drum beat; it has all the ingredients of a classic rock anthem - simple but embellished in all the right places. In all, it's a definite crowd pleaser and the obvious choice for a single.
Greg Kurstin produced the album (he has previously worked with chart-topping artists such as Adele and Sia). You can sense elements of pop from the lush thick vocal harmonies and compressed anthem-like sound. It still retains enough of the usual Foo Fighter elements to keep it firmly in line with their sound.
Stand-out tracks - the good and the bad
T-shirt: For a second, I thought I was listening to a 1960's Stax vocalist, rather than Dave Grohl. The gentle, soulful vocals were at first surprising, until I was hit by the sudden wall of layered guitars and vocals harmonies. Overall, a good opener.
Run: A pleasant clean guitar met by a sudden, jarring rocky breakdown, complete with screaming from Grohl, reminiscent of Wasting Light's White Limo.
Make It Right: Probably the most disappointing track of the album. The riff is predictable and repetitive and the melody very cheesy. Justin Timberlake’s contribution went unnoticed.
Dirty Water: This is Grohl’s take on a mellow love song. It has a relaxing summery feel. Following the theme, we are awaiting the four chorded head banging breakdown and to no surprise, we get it.
Arrows: A typical Foo’s track: powerful, melodic, and a highlight track of the album.
Happy Ever After: Starts off promising, with the delicate classical guitar, but doesn’t really take off. The Beatles and The Beach Boys’ influence can certainly be heard and it appears that’s what they were going for, after all, Dave did say the album would be like ‘when Slayer does Pet Sounds’.
Sunday Rain: Another very different track, and again, the 1960s pop sound is firmly there. Drafting in Paul McCartney to play drums was more of a symbolic choice, what with the two skilled drummers already present in the band.
It’s hard to decipher the theme this album follows but Grohl told Rolling Stone “I was inspired by what was going on with our country – politically, personally, as a father, an American and a musician. There was a lot to write about.”
Lyrically he sings about hope, desperation and gets subtly political in Run “We are the nation's stakes/ If everything's erased/ What you gonna do” - a hint at Trump’s presidency.
But I found the album lyrically bland. If Grohl wanted to go political, he should have done it properly and gone full punk.
It's clear the Foo's are deciding to largely stick to what they do best with a glimmer of some experimental 1960’s pop thrown in. They've created another loud, fast, guitar-based record, and why change, it's what commands them a global following.
Yet, I was left feeling the album was rather predictable. The tracks are strong, but none stand out when considering their impressive catalogue of albums. I was hoping for another Everlong, The Pretender or Hero but none came. The album lacked an emotional depth in contrast to The Colour and the Shape and Wasting Light. As a guitarist, none of the electric riffs got me all that excited.
It's certainly a catchy album I will continue listening to, but will it go down in musical history? Probably not.
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