Foo Fighters – Concrete and Gold (RCA)

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Dave Grohl and company present their ninth studio album as fodder for their upcoming international tour.

I don’t know, I find it difficult to get excited about the prospect of another Foo Fighters album. And apparently Dave Grohl did too as he took an indefinite hiatus from all things music-related after the band’s previous tour which ended with Grohl nursing a broken leg.

But it seems that writing songs and recording them is an itch that Dave needs to scratch and so here we are with Concrete and Gold.

In addition to the now six piece band (former Wallflower keyboard player Rami Jaffee is now an official Foo), the album is populated with a bevy of guests…Justin Timberlake, Inara George, Dave Koz, Alison Mosshart, even Paul McCartney…not that their contributions are that interesting, or at times, even audible.

Most notable is the recruitment of producer Greg Kurstin, who, in addition to being one half of Boy And Bee with Inara George, has also produced big pop hits for Adele, Kelly Clarkson, Sia and Lily Allen.

This seemingly mismatched choice parallels the Queens Of The Stone Age’s use of Mark Ronson for their latest album and, indeed, Grohl has commented that he sees the Foos and QOTSA as “flip sides of the same coin”.

The result of Kurstin’s input is that, although the band makes an effort to crank out some heavy riffs in places, while at other times create some rather tasty melodic rock, much of the power and punch of the music has been ironed out with compression, resulting in generic-sounding rock music.

To be fair, I enjoyed this album more than I thought I would. Grohl and his compatriots have obviously put in a lot of work coming up with decent songs such as The Line and Happy Ever After (Zero Hour). But along with suffering from the slick production, the songs also contain some mighty lame lyrics. Some of them allude to the US political climate, but like, La Dee Da, they end up saying nothing.

Also, they best sounding tracks on Concrete and Gold sound an awful lot like other bands.

Sunday Rain, with Macca on drums, sounds eerily close to John Lennon’s How Do You Sleep, while Happy Ever After steals the melody from She Came In Through The Bathroom Window.  The title track sounds like an outtake from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon and Make It Right reminds me of a mid-90s Aerosmith track.

Kudos to Dave Grohl for even bothering to attempt to make new music in an era when no one seems to care and even fewer are willing to pay for it. And I’m guessing that songs like Run and La Dee Da will sound much better in concert, free from the aural studio constraints placed on them here.  We’ll see when the tour rolls around to New Zealand in February.

Marty Duda