Nine studio albums is no small feat in itself. To remain interesting at that point is an even larger achievement. Dave Grohl and his merry band of Foo Fighters have managed to pull it off with an effortless sense of fun, stripping away the conceptual efforts of the band’s last 4 albums whilst taking influence from each. Concrete & Gold itself is full of flavour, overflowing with versatility that offers the listener a sense of the freedoms the band explored in its recording.
Foo Fighters have never been renowned for re-inventing the wheel, but just doing what they do well. Really well. However, with Concrete & Gold the band have adopted a wider scope than their usual loud guitars & drums status quo. The album’s opening track 'T-shirt' serves as almost an aperitif to the album’s first released single 'Run', possibly the most familiar to fans of the bands recent material, from their it’s Alice down the rabbit hole in comparison.
'The Sky is a Neighbourhood' is a further departure from the band’s usual instrumentally full sound, with staccato understated verses roared over by Grohl and full blow-out choruses the band make a nod to the verse/chrous/verse roots that have carried them this far and explore less familiar ground in the collaboration with Allison Mosshart of The Kills.
It’s fair to say Concrete & Gold avoids a mid-album lull, it’s hard to get tired of the journey when every track is a new destination but 'La Dee Da' listens as a respectful nod to their earliest material from the 90’s self titled release with it’s loud guitars and drums and fuzzier tones. It’s this kind of nostalgia that is captured so well in this record, from the clearly McCartney influenced 'Sunday Rain' to the fluid harmonies and clean licks on 'Dirty Water'.
Taylor Hawkins was quoted as saying “I think it’s our most psychedelic record, and our weirdest.” and he’s right; the band have achieved treading new ground out for themselves beyond the nostalgic nods to their past releases. With the last few records almost being as much about the means as the end result it’s refreshing to hear a traditional recording approach result in the weirdest record so far.
The record is enjoyable, listening like the fruits of its labour; recorded by accomplished musicians going back to basics, only produced by a pop-recording Midas (Greg Kurstin) in a traditional studio, with a barbecue on the patio and a whole breadth of talents to contribute and break bread with right down the corridor.
While it might not feature any instant classics like 'Everlong' or 'Best of You' Concrete and Gold is a hell of a fun record with a sonically nostalgic overtone, reminiscent of the bands history, both individually and as a group. Thinking back to the opening statement; Concrete & Gold is all the evidence anyone needs Foo Fighters are still interesting without the use of conceptual recording process’. How many times have you said that about a band nine albums in?