Foo Fighters – Concrete and Gold Review

It has been two years since one of the worlds biggest bands released their last set of material with their St. Cecilia EP in 2015 and another year since their last album Sonic Highways from 2014. When they released the first single from Concrete and Gold; ‘Run’ took some people by surprise and since then a steady steam of material and details have emerged from upcoming ninth studio album. Most notably is Greg Kurstin as producer. In recent years he’s worked with Adele, Sia and Ellie Goulding. Despite having little to no experience recording Rock music prior to Dave Grohl seeking him out, he described him as “a fucking genius” and the key to unlocking a larger Foo Fighters sound. Greg has now worked with The Shins and Liam Gallagher. Given how Sonic Highways proved a better documentary series than an album, the band wanted to come back strong with a proper album crammed full of ideas and influences.

Echoed, ringing riffs open ‘Run’ before a pacing percussion signals the start of a rabid and snarling piece of hard rock. From Dave Grohl’s screeches to the wiry lead riffs ahead of the grinding rhythms, the song kicks and screams and kicks hard. In an instant, they have the ability to turn melodic with echoed harmonies, backing vocals and Dave’s typically easy tunefulness. It is not going to be the best track you’ll hear this year, but the Foo Fighters have typically delivered a high octane track with added aggression whilst retaining the ability for melody amongst the heavy sounds. ‘The Sky Is A Neighbourhood’ has a different sound to it, an essence of composed and considered music that is given away with the Beatle-esque harmonies that open and signpost the track. The song is restrained, whilst still packing a punch within it’s steady confines with grinding riffs driving the chorus and strung out pieces in the verses. It is within this space that you get a greater feel for Dave Grohl’s songwriting. In this case ‘The Sky Is A Neighbourhood’ ponders all the life out there in space and how “we have to get our shit together” on earth “to survive this universe full of life” ‘The Line’ is the group plying their anthemic sound with this sing-a-long track; a matured ‘Times Like These’ if you will. It continues the trend along with the other singles as each offers up a subtle change in sound and delivery. The latest single opens with spread riffs echoing into the background with Grohl’s hushed tones before bursting into light with a steady, but full six piece arrangment of clear, distorted and lead guitar parts entwined with a charged bass and siren-like keys. As ever, Taylor Hawkins holds his own behind the drum kit to back up the fuller sound the band now deliver. 

‘Arrows’ is a track that rings out into the open space the instrumentation generates via a more distant recorded sound. Though it is still a typical piece of Hard Rock, it is less immediate in nature and this gives lisence for Dave’s vocals to be recorded in a whirring fashion to fade back into the instrumentation. An example of the difference created from small production changes. The title track is an intruiging one. It hints at an Industrial sound with grinding and dragging guitars with the distorted, gentle vocals. This is set up to calmly open up into a lighter sound of harmonious backing vocals and more open riffs. These steep changes in tone are something that they accentuate as the song goes on. A nice shift in tone and great way to close the album. ‘La Dee Da’ has verses of swagger and shuffling progression that meets with a screeching chorus. Tracks like ‘Dirty Water’ are reminiscent of Greg Kurstin’s The Bird and the Bee with their breezy melodies and light harmonies. The track then bursts into a driving piece of distorted electronica and guitar. Both sound good in isolation but prove to be an unrecognisable pair in the same track. That sums up this album. All of the ideas for the album provide results, but these emerge in the wrong places or only for fleeting moments. When paired an ever confident delivery and with the strong set of singles you have a good album, yet you know that the Foo Fighters are capable of making a great album again; they’ve just got to get their ideas in order. 

Foo Fighters – Concrete and Gold = 7/10

Owen Riddle

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