This is the Foo Fighters NINTH studio album. Dave Grohl is now 48 years old, and the band as a whole has been knocking around since 1994. Expectations were relatively low when the Foos announced this new 12 track LP which was produced by king of the pop producers Greg Kurstin (Adele, Katy Perry et al). To be fair, it’s not a bad album, but it’s plainer than a ‘Tesco value’ rice cake.
The last Foos LP, ‘Sonic Highways’ was the utter definition of a conceptual album and received criticism from all corners of the music world. This time around, Grohl and his Foos bandmates play it safe by strictly adhering to the classic FF’s formula. Melodic choruses combined with racing riffs supplied by guitarists Chris Shiflett and the effervescent Pat Smear.
The first single, ‘Run’ is a decent effort. If you liked the band before, you’ll like this track. It’s 5 minutes of galloping riffs powered by drummer and walking Pantene advert Taylor Hawkins. Producer Kurstin’s amiable influence can be felt on tracks like ‘The Sky Is A Neighbourhood’ which has an overall more accessible feel than some past FF’s work. The trend continues with the good-natured and urbane, ‘Dirty Water’, a song utterly soaked in overdubbed, harmonious vocals.
‘Sunday Rain’ opens with a drum beat supplied by everyone’s favourite Grandad, Paul McCartney. In the weeks leading up to the LP’s release Grohl described the effort as “Motorhead’s version of Sergeant Pepper” Does anyone even really know what is supposed to mean?
When compared to past Foos works like 1997’s ‘The Colour and The Shape’ and even more recently ‘Wasting Light’ in 2011, ‘Concrete And Gold’ just lacks that genuine snarl and raw energy which makes the Foo Fighters so widely appealing. Generally, the album splutters, it comes in fits and eventually starts. After the poor reception to the group’s last release, this album has the unmistakable stench of a band playing it safe.
The hits were written a lifetime ago, the risks have already been taken to avoid fading away into obscurity and the fan-base is well and truly established, they are not going anywhere. It is inevitable then that a band 23 years in the business will produce a record purely for the sake of fanservice. It has all your classic FF traits whilst not daring to betray the casual and loyal listener.
While this new album is not bad, it’s far from great. Some tracks like ‘Arrows’ and ‘Make it Right’ feel drawn out and awkwardly forced. Personally, I quite like the Foo Fighters, but ultimately Concrete and Gold is bland, and a bit boring. Sorry Papa Grohl.