This aesthetic uncertainty formed the backdrop for Foo Fighters' eponymous debut in 1995, wherein Grohl and co. unveiled their balm for the identity crisis: a return to hard rock orthodoxy, crunchy, arena-friendly comforts of the past-or, as Grohl puts it, "real music". We became pals 10 years ago. The album is all but certain to earn the group their fourth UK Number 1 this Friday, joining previous chart toppers One By One, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, and Wasting Light.
Recorded in a single studio in LA, Concrete and Gold is the Foo's attempt to branch out from the anthem rock that brought their sound to the masses.
The record opens with the short and sweet "T-Shirt", starting with the heartfelt lyrics "I don't wanna be king / I just wanna sing love songs / Pretend there's nothing wrong / You can sing along with me". Having said that, "Concrete and Gold" is the Foo Fighters best album since 2007, but once again, it is an album that has only a few great tracks surrounded by filler tracks.
Sometimes this translates well, like their 2014 album "Sonic Highways", which had them travel across the United States to record a song in eight different cities.
Switching issues, "The Sky is a Neighborhood" introduces the new phenomenon of life inhabiting every realm of the planet that we know and even space. Sunday Rain is highly Beatley; so is Happy Ever After (Zero Hour).
Frontman and principal songwriter Dave Grohl has always been known to be a scholar in all things rock, with a mastery of the genre's wide range of sounds from the 1960s to the present. In fact, "Sunday Rain" and "Make It Right" could easily be the best songs on the album.
So, the question remains, if the Foos can cram their entire career into Concrete and Gold's opening song, why should you bother with the rest?
Speaking of catchy songs, I really like the background vocals and the sunny, melodic guitar at the beginning of "Dirty Water". For their ninth album, the first after a broken leg temporarily hobbled the irrepressible Grohl ("I feel the metal in my bones", runs one wry lyric here), they have enlisted pop merchant Greg Kurstin (Adele, Katy Perry, Lily Allen; more recently, Liam Gallagher, Beck) to produce.
Should you listen to it? Instead, Concrete and Gold ticks all the boxes, adding just enough flourishes to keep things interesting for lifetime fanclub members and maintain the Foos' status as summer's biggest stadium rock drawcard. Some tracks stand out a bit more than others and at times you get a feeling that nothing is new at all. The Foo Fighters have skillfully avoided this fall from grace, and they have an album full of guest artists to thank for it.
While punctured with a couple holes of pace and redundancy, Concrete and Gold still embodies a more mobile form of rock, allowing listeners to taste samplings of varying sounds within a realm of deep contemplation so often remiss in the all-too-similar vibrations of the Top 100.