One thing becomes abundantly clear about 28 seconds into "T-Shirt", the first track off Foo Fighters' ninth studio album Concrete and Gold - this will not be your typical Foo Fighters album.
What's different about it? Well for starters, the way it was made. After recording 2011's Wasting Light in Grohl's house and garage, then writing and recording Sonic Highways in a different city to influence and represent each song, the band has done a 180 and recorded in a regular studio. With a regular producer. In the same city. Fucking weirdos.
Of course, it has since been revealed that original plans to make the album on stage at the Hollywood Bowl in front of a live audience were scrapped after PJ Harvey recorded in a similar fashion her latest effort The Hope Six Demolition Project, and thus beating the Foos to the punch of the record button.
One would argue that at this point in their career the band doesn't need to rely on a "gimmick" in order to sell records and they would be right. They don't. But it would seem that Dave Grohl is like a shark that just can't seem to stop swimming for fear of drowning, thus always looking for something to pique his interest.
So what piqued his interest this time? That would be producer Greg Kurstin, and his indie band The Bird and the Bee. Loving the lush vocal arrangements Kurstin provided on both his own band's albums as well as music he had produced for the likes of Adele, Sia and Pink, Grohl approached him to helm the band's new album.
First single "Run" was very much an expected listen, employing the loud-quiet-loud formula that the band has been using effectively since their 1995 debut. But looking beyond "Run", Concrete and Gold is probably the group's most experimental record and like all experiments, some are successful in their formula and execution, and some just aren't.
Take "Sunday Rain", for example. On the surface, it's an inoffensive Beatles-esque mid-tempo number that doesn't initially catch the ear save for one glaring reason. It just doesn't sound like Foo Fighters.
Whereas a track like T"he Sky Is A Neighborhood" - a sparsely arranged, also Beatles-esque track with a rousing singalong chorus, even with all these non-formulaic descriptives still manages to be unmistakably Foo Fighters.
Foo Fighters have always managed to be very aurally palatable while maintaining a slight edge to their sound that helped to foster them as a hard rocking group even as they navigated the charts usually reserved for the likes of Beyonce. But Kurstin's production neuters them in a sense and the individual abilities of Grohl, bassist Nate Mendel, Guitarists Pat Smear and Chris Shiflett, drummer Taylor Hawkins and newest full-time member Rami Jaffee get lost in the production.
There's no telling what direction Foo Fighters will take next, and to their credit they could have very easily played it safe with Concrete and Gold - delivering more of that dude-rock that folks have come to know and love and heaven knows you can't fault a band for not wanting to alienate their listeners. But there's something to be said for a band that, even if the listener can't connect to the music as easily, isn't afraid to challenge them every once in a while either.
7.0 / 10
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