Nine albums in and Foo Fighters are trying to push themselves to new levels and create a depth to their catalogue. However, despite a couple of solid high points, Concrete and Gold is found wanting in that punch factor you come to expect from a Foo Fighters album. In fact the album title is a perfect way of summing up the record; it both sinks and shines.
From the opening track, ‘T-Shirt’, you know this record is going in a different direction. What feels like an unreleased track from Queen, the more sombre and beautifully sung track is a striking introduction to the record. From here tracks like ‘Make It Right’ and ‘Happy Ever After’, wear their influences on their sleave; they feel like total tributes to Led Zeppelin, while ‘Sunday Rain’ is clearly fuelled by a strong Beatles influence (helped by the presence of Paul McCartney on the drums). The guest spot takes nothing away from the track, just adds a softer touch to an otherwise heavier sounding song, allowing howling guitars and Grohl’s vocals to shine during the six minute (plus) song.
‘La Dee La’ is, at its core, a classic Foo’s song; faster drums, heavy riffs and head bobbing ability is instantaneous, but the thing that stops it from being a great song is how it has been put together. Despite delivering that much wanted punch-to-the-gut heaviness, the added synth and modulated effects end up subtracting from the raw intensity that is clearly at the root of the track.
The title track and album closer shuts the door with a fuzzy wave of sound from a stack of Marshall Amps and haunting vocals. It works so well, and the beautiful end to the record is unexpected but welcome.
Dave Grohl is a rock star through and through, his influences run deep in how he speaks about music and what he makes. This album is no different, allowing listeners to get a somehow new sense of the band. Your typical Foo Fighters album is rock and roll, period. Nothing fancy, no guest spots from artists, just riffs, chest pounding drums and guttural vocals that are bare none. Concrete and Gold feels like the band knew this, and wanted to keep that fundamentals but steer the car a little of well worn track. However, despite a few highlights, it feels as if the band has hit a plateau instead. It’s a little lacklustre, and bloated, and the times when track lengths exceed 5 minutes, we get an experience that feels dragged out and contrived. Not without its merits, Concrete and Gold just falls short of what is expected.
Concrete and Gold is out now via Roswell Records.