Concrete & Gold
Release Date: September 15, 2017
Label: Roswell Records/RCA Records
Review by Jared Stossel
It’s quite astounding, actually. It’s been almost a year since the Foo Fighters released their ninth album, Concrete & Gold. But what’s even more astounding is how a band that has had as successful of a career as they have are still hungry for experimentation, for trying new things and venturing into unknown territory on their records. On paper, Concrete & Gold shouldn’t work: eleven tracks by one of the heavier bands in rock and roll, produced by a pop music extraordinaire (Greg Kurstin) who had never worked with a heavier rock act before. And yet, the result of Concrete & Gold is astonishingly beautiful.
There was evidence of this willingness to step out of the box in the past (2005’s In Your Honor is a perfect example, with one disc having heavier music, and the other having mellow acoustic tracks.) But this kind of pop brings the band into near-Beatles’ and Brit-pop territory. At least, that’s the case with tracks like “Happy Ever After (Zero Hour)” and “Sunday Rain” (which literally has a Beatle, Paul McCartney, performing drums on the song, while drummer Taylor Hawkins assumes vocal duties). The key to this record, like any good Foo Fighters record, lies within the balance. Some songs are heavier, others are lighter. And that’s perfect.
Concrete & Gold begins with the mellowed out “T-Shirt”, which launches straight into one of the best rock and roll songs of the last year, “Run”. The chorus alone has been inspiring mosh pits galore at show after show (the band have currently been touring extensively in support of the album) and is sure to remain a staple in any Foo Fighters show for years to come. “Make It Right”, which features guest vocals from (yes, we’re serious) Justin Timberlake, keeps things moving along with gritty southern rock flair that only Dave Grohl & Co. could bring forth with both rock and pop sensibilities.
”The Sky Is A Neighborhood” is a hauntingly beautiful track that slows thing down, yet manages to keep the intensity all the way up. A vibrant chorus gives the song a stadium feel, yet each verse makes the song feel intimate to not be too grandiose. “La Dee Da” kicks off with a fuzzy bass line that launches the band into a 4/4 time, garage-rock powerhouse. The pluck of an acoustic guitar signals the beginning of “Dirty Water”, a calmer track which slowly builds up into the powerful rock bridge and chorus that fans of the Foos know and love. “Arrows” showcases some of Grohl’s most powerful lyrics in his tenure as a songwriter (a majority of the album’s lyrical themes have been described as ones surrounding “hope and desperation”, inspired by the tumultuous political climate surrounding the United States).
“The Line” picks things right back up with an upbeat, near-pop-rock track, before moving into the album’s concluding title track. It’s the calmest yet most powerful track on the record, bringing things to a savory close and putting an accentuation on every band members’ vital importance to the band. Everything sticks out more in this track: Grohl’s vocals and guitar, the strumming of guitarists Chris Shifflet and Pat Smear, the bass plucking of Nate Mendell, every drum hit from Taylor Hawkins, and every keyboard hit from Rami Jaffee (the first album in which he is listed as a permanent member of the band). Concrete & Gold cements yet another chapter in the legacy of the Foo Fighters, proving that it’s fun to do what might seem impossible, and hit it out of the park in the process.