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The Foo Fighters are adept at coursing through various styles of hard rock. Moments of Concrete and Gold touch on hard-driving punk and, in the case of “The Sky Is a Neighborhood,” glam and prog. Whether the reference points are Alice Cooper or Slayer, no one can accuse the Foo Fighters of not being honor-roll students when it comes to heaviness.
For something new but of the era, put it on while planning the Class of 1997’s 20-year reunion.
A reboot of American Pie. Concrete and Gold is loud and bold, and possesses identifiable melodies without taking itself too seriously.
The knock on Foo Fighters is that they always make the same record. But the accusation is far from true. Dave Grohl has led the band through a period of slight experimentation in recent years. While Concrete and Gold feels more direct than 2014’s Sonic Highways, several psychedelic and orchestral flourishes illustrate the Foo Fighters continue to branch out from 90s alt-rock and into 70-influenced classic rock.
Grohl even mentioned he wanted Concrete and Gold to be something akin to Motorhead’s “version of Sgt. Peppers.” Yet it remains a Foo Fighters record through and through, with plenty of loud-soft dynamics and old-fashioned crunchy guitars. Don’t be put off by seeing Greg Kurstin’s name on the production credits; the pop mastermind doesn’t turn down the volume.
While one can admire the Foo Fighters’ ambitions, their albums increasingly reflect a cake-and-eat-it-too quality. Despite the diverse stylistic flirtations, the music rarely genuinely strays from the formula. When the band embraces rock n’ roll excess—see the aforementioned “The Sky Is a Neighborhood”—the album takes flight. Yet the collective can’t resist swelling to epic loudness, which means the jangly “Dirty Water” and even the bluesy “Sunday Rain”— featuring an assist on drums from Paul McCartney—never really get a chance to breathe.
Cut for vinyl by Chris Bellman, Concrete and Gold doesn’t exactly live up to its “testing the limits of speakers everywhere” claim on the sticker affixed to the packaging, but the record sounds better than many contemporary rock recordings. While it comes up a bit short in dynamics, its midrange punch and low-end oomph more than register the intended impact.
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