Written by Zach Hughes
They finally got around to headlining Glastonbury earlier this year and now they’ve finally got around to releasing some new material for us mortals to drool over. It’s been 3 years dammit.
Just to start, it must be noted that the Foos do tend to vary from album to album. Whether that be recording the whole thing in frontman (and official kindest guy in Rock ‘n’ Roll) Dave Grohl’s garage, or doing a whole HBO series and driving all around America to record an album.
In that regard at least, Concrete And Gold is comparatively civilian. Being recorded in one of those boring old recording studios your Grandad probably used or something. However, as with most things worth spending time over, the beauty is on the inside.
Concrete And Gold possesses a choral quality, with harmonies and backing vocals on pretty much every track. It’s definitely a group effort and kicks things off with a lesson in dynamics. This is schooled to us in the opening track T-shirt which starts off with you turning your headphones up to hear it, to getting your eardrum obliterated. It turns on the spot.
After blowing the cobwebs off we move into perhaps one of the most familiar sounding songs of the album, Run. It gets us back into the palm of Dave Grohl’s lovely hand, whilst the group establishes the momentum.
This momentum is kept consistent and puzzlingly restrained somehow until the last moments of Sky Is A Neighbourhood. The riffs are tight and there are hints of what is coming next, with Grohl instructing us to “breathe a little deeper”. For other groups, these tracks would be barnstormers but for the Foo Fighters they’re the tantalising taste of the raucous to come.
Our first taste of true chaos comes in the form of La Dee Da, a misleading name if there ever was one. Here Grohl’s passion for metal shines through, with the screams coming in thick and thin. Screams people fortunate enough to have seen the Foos live will be familiar with. Yet this is the first time we have heard them come through this well on a Foos record. They’ve been there before but on La Dee Da; they feel necessary and cathartic after the sweet tease of the previous tracks.
After this point things get a bit deeper. There are allusions to the Flint water crisis, Trump supporters and Armageddon in the second act. Grohl dictates us to “breathe dirty water, breathe dirty skies” whilst proclaiming he is a “natural disaster” on Dirty Water.
An air of resignation wafts about these songs as well, particularly on chilled out doomsday song Happy Ever After (Zero Hour). Which, even in the age of Marvel, tells us that “there ain’t no superheroes now”. Charming. Probably accurate though. Thanks Dave…
All in all, this is a strong album, perhaps their strongest since 2011’s Wasting Light. It showcases their prowess as an experienced group and it showcases their ability to try new things. Like letting Taylor Hawkins have his own track, Sunday Rain (the good) and trying to be young again on The Line (the bad).
In fact, The Line is the only bad track on this record. I won’t even bother to slate it because it would be misplaced. It doesn’t really detract from the experience. It just feels a bit lazy and too try-hard to work.
So, worth the wait? Yes, put it on already and turn the f***er up!