All that glitters may not be entirely gold in Foo Fighters’ latest album, but its ardor and concurrent tenderness depicts a genuine reflection of human desperation and dejection.
Released on Sept. 15, Concrete and Gold is the ninth album in the Foo Fighters’ robust repertoire, and follows earlier singles “Run” and “The Sky Is a Neighborhood.” Its inception resulted from lead singer David Grohl breaking a supposed hiatus from music and collaborating with newly acclaimed music producer Greg Kurstin. The duo aimed to create a more sophisticated sound for the heavy rock band, a genre with which Kurstin himself had never affiliated.
The heavy rock band certainly tweaked its wallowing tendencies to welcome a slight broadening of its musical horizons while still remaining loyal to its dynamism between soft and strong.
In “T-Shirt,” tender vocals initially caress humble lyrics such as “I don’t wanna be a king / I just wanna sing a love song” until a collision of percussion and drum overtake any resemblance of serenity and invigorate a notion of growth in personal power. Techno pop cinders glow beneath the rock ashes of “La Dee Da,” in which electronic clinks and clatters layer an energetic surge of drums, altering the typical progression of a rock song.
“Run” depicts the continuous inner conflict between hoping for a better life and violently dwelling on endless strife. This constant swing between states manifests in a shift from an embraceable rhythm of mellow electric guitar and drum to a heavy metal eruption, finishing with a meshed balance of both vastly discrete sounds and exhibiting at last the coexistence of dream and reality.
“The Sky Is A Neighborhood” addresses similar contemplations about human existence by exploring the mayhem of the universe and its inhabitants in a convergence of simultaneously melodious and discordant vibrations. The steady rhythm of drums among abrupt strums of the electric tones meld with gruff vocals to convey the ever-evolving relationship between beings and the cosmos.
Foo Fighters hone in on its capacity for silk simplicity in “Happy Ever After (Zero Hour),” offering up a bleak sentiment through the repetition of “There ain’t no superheroes now” while“Sunday Rain” expresses similarly despondent lyrics through a rock-turned-funk lens.
Although Concrete and Gold’s thematic depth and authentic yet innovative mixing shone through most songs, others missed the sweet spot of unique metamorphosis and landed in a faulty, often times trite danger zone.
An archetypal guitar solo opening ushers in “Make It Right,” the product of an unlikely partnership between Foo Fighters and pop singer Justin Timberlake. The song illustrates the punchy yet trite sentiments so characteristic of classic rock, expressing the urge to “Hop on the train to nowhere baby.” While it could be a pleasurable song for avid rock listeners, as it is extremely reminiscent of rock powerhouses such as AC/DC, “Make It Right” is not for the faint of heart. Headaches will ensue among those not fluent in rock after a single auditory engagement with the song, whose overlapping “La La La’s” elicit a reaction similar to that of waking from slumber via garbage trucks beeping outside the dorm window.
The title track “Concrete and Gold” conversely suffers from a painful slowness, transporting the listener into an inescapable pit of tar. While the slow-motion take on their typical back and forth between light and heavy sounds may have seemed innovative at conception, the result is a drag for the ear.
Despite a few issues within the set, Foo Fighters still succeed in vivifying the fading genre of rock music in the current media-verse enamored with streamlined pop, sprucing its sound with elements of pop and other, more recognizable sounds. Such an approach, which may differ from the statutes of rock purists, will ultimately keep the genre from relinquishing the minimized grip it possesses now. Rock must assume flexibility for the sake of prevailing as an art that liberated angst and praised gruff realism, and Foo Fighters’ attempt to modify while preserving earns merit within itself.
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. For that, Concrete and Gold erects a gilded yet sturdy platform for other variations of heavy rock to build upon in coming years.
Featured Image By RCA Records