By Chris Zuver, A&E Editor
Dear Millennials, generation X-ers, and even baby boomers: in twenty years from now, I am convinced that despite whatever music is dominating the charts (assuming we still have charts), we will consider the Foo Fighters as rock legends that trudged on, championing a genre that seemed to be all but alive in their time.
But right now, rock’s still dead. Watered down, sterile songs continue to dominate the radio and the online media. In the mainstream, all we see now are bloated rehashes of rock history and acts that incorporate so many mediocre and trendy gimmicks that they’re hardly less-produced than a pop group.
Then you have the case of Dave Grohl: having risen from the legacy of Nirvana through being their drummer, he rose to even higher fame in the late 90’s as the front man of the Foo Fighters. While Grohl’s resume certainly helped the band get a foot-up, they would in no way continue to be significant today if the music was bad.
And while this latest album is more interesting than 2014’s “Sonic Highways,” neither is it jaw-dropping. Personally, I thought the Foo’s strongest moment in the last decade was 2011’s “Wasting Light,” and was hoping for a return to the passion and boldness of that era. Alas, their latest, “Concrete and Gold” is not quite as satisfying, but still not a bad effort from a band that is now nine albums into their career.
There are some great numbers like opener “T-shirt,” “Make It Right,” “Dirty Water,” and single “The Line.” The album also features a surprising range of guest musicians, such as Justin Timberlake, Paul McCartney, Dave Koz, and Shawn Stockman.
In regards to their marketing, the build-up prior to release was done well. Lead single, “Run,” is a solid hitter, incorporating the band’s aggression and knack for bravado.
“The Sky Is a Neighborhood” is a quirky second release that opens as a readymade arena number that walks the line between tension and release. In the chorus, a choir rings out “Oh my dear Heaven is a big band now/Gotta get to sleep somehow/Bangin’ on the ceiling/Bangin’ on the ceiling/Keep it down.” This adds to the punch to the song and the crowds will be sure to sing it in upcoming live shows.
Another song worth pointing out is hard hitter “La Dee Da.” It’s nice to hear the band go back to their hardcore tendencies which they exercised more the past. The song is reminiscent of numbers like “White Limo” or “Weenie Beenie.” Neither were major hits for the band in terms of popularity, but both remain fan favorites. Over the deafening guitars, Grohl screams, “Look out ’cause you know what you’re doing/Turn up the American ruse/Whitehouse, Death in June/Jim Jones painting in a blue bedroom.”
In an interview with NME, Grohl discussed the influence for his lyrics, citing Donald Trump and a ‘wave of conservatism’ as big factors that helped put the words in place.
Grohl stated, “I’m looking at a candidate that has blatant disregard for the future environmentally, when it comes to women’s rights, diplomatically…I have three daughters that are going to survive me for decades – how are they going to get on unless there’s some positive and progressive change?”
During the chorus of their third single, “The Line,” Grohl sings, “The tears in your eyes/ Someday will dry/ We fight for our lives/ Because everything’s on the line/ This time.” The song is surprisingly aggressive and urgent compared to the overall mellowing the band has gone through over the years. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Grohl described the song as “a search for hope in this day and age where you feel as if you’re fighting for your life with every passing moment, and everything is on the line.”
Though the Foo Fighters were never considered to be on the cutting edge of rock innovation, neither have they phoned-in their effort, and they certainly were never ones to be considered trendy. This new album isn’t trendy, but it certainly follows a pattern that the band seems to have made into their own trend. The instrumentation is top-notch, yet, the songwriting falls back on tired tropes that Grohl and associates have rung out before.
Fans will certainly not be disappointed with this one. And once again, I think this is a step-up from their last album. Yet, I can’t help but think that the group could afford to branch out further and try new things in the future.