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FOO FIGHTERS ‘Concrete And Gold’

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When rock fans start hearing that a band is being experimental they have every right to be nervous. Remember the backlash against Live’s Secret Samadhi album? In the lead-up to the release of the ninth Foo Fighters’ album, Concrete And Gold, the band were openly talking about this being ‘experimental’ in a sense and then there were news stories breaking that involved Paul McCartney playing drums on a track, Boyz II Men’s Shawn Stockman helping out on a track and Dave Grohl attempting to do 10CC style vocals on a track. The big elephant in the room though was the fact that the album was produced by Greg Kurstin – a man known for his work with artists like Pink, Sia, Lily Allen and Kelly Clarkson… yep no rock to see there.

As it turns out the ‘experimental’ side of the Foo Fighters fits them like a glove… although the 10CC inspired track, ‘Soldiers’, didn’t make the final cut there are plenty of other tracks on Concrete And Gold that do see the Fooies do a few things differently and the result is the usual Foo Fighters’ brilliance.

As if he wants to deny the throne he now finds himself on in the rock world Grohl starts the album with the line “I don’t want to be king” before the track, the very short, ‘T-Shirt’ gives us a glimpse of the 70s rock sound that the Fooies do so well on this album. That softer approach then gives way to the pounding drums of Taylor Hawkins on ‘Run’ which turns to distorted instrumentals and vocals in a big way. The track also sees some of the heaviest rock screams from Grohl since ‘The Pretender.’

The 70s sound comes back with ‘Make It Right’ which also features vocals from Justin Timberlake. There is no pop sound here though, instead the Foo Fighters take on something new, something that sounds like Pallbearer mixed with old school grunge. Then of course comes ‘The Sky Is A Neighbourhood’, a track that is going to go down as a classic Foo Fighters single.

As the name suggests ‘La Dee Da’ is a catchy track that sees the band call on a punk like intensity very similar to what we saw on some of the live Nirvana tracks from The Muddy Banks Of The Wishkah while ‘Dirty Water’ kicks off with a sweet melodic opening before really rocking up.

The true experimental side of the Foo Fighters comes through on the very smooth ‘Arrows’ before ‘Happy Ever After (Zero Hour)’ sees the band create a really folky sound. Grohl confidence with his vocals really show on this track really shows as there are times here where is virtually singing acapella style…. something that in this modern era of autotune is so rare. Taylor Hawkins then steps up to the mic and Sir Paul McCartney up to the kit for the Californian rock sound of ‘Sunday Rain.’

‘The Line’ is again the Foo Fighters at their smooth best while the album closes with the absolutely stunning ‘Concrete And Gold.’ The track sees the band turn to a real drone rock sound with the vocals only made even sweeter by the voice of Shawn Stockman who Grohl recruited after a chance meeting in a car park.

As an album Concrete And Gold sees the Fooies try a number of different sounds and techniques and they pull them off brilliantly. To see a rock band as established as the Foo Fighters shake up the camp by trying the things they do on this album shows that they are band that is mature and skilled enough to approach an album hellbent on doing something different no matter what the naysayers might say. Those naysayers can shut right up now because this album is pure gold.

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