“Concrete and Gold”
BOTTOM LINE Rock’s reigning kings get an infusion of power and pop.
It was pretty clear that the Foo Fighters were looking for some inspiration in recent years.
“Wasting Light,” in 2011, was recorded using only analog equipment. “Sonic Highways,” in 2014, was recorded entirely on the road, with each song written and recorded in a different city — a process that was captured in an HBO documentary series.
However, for the Foos’ ninth album, “Concrete and Gold” (Roswell / RCA), there are no gimmicks. They aren’t needed.
Starting with the opener “T-Shirt” — which goes from acoustic sweetness, as Dave Grohl sings, “I don’t want to be queen, just trying to keep my T-shirt clean,” to massive Queen-styled rock bombast in a split second — it is clear the creative flame is now burning bright.
The first single, “Run,” goes from a swirl of Beatlesque harmonies to heavy metal shrieking and back again, managing to always still sound like the Foo Fighters. It is part of the band’s lasting charm that it can stretch and twist into different rock styles and still maintain its own distinctive style.
“La Dee Da” pulls the Foos into protest anthems with a bit of swagger, one of the many examples of how producer Greg Kurstin, best known for his work with Adele, Sia and Kelly Clarkson, makes these songs sound crisper and more pointed. The opening of “The Line” could have come from one of Kurstin’s pop collaborators before it bashes its way back into a hard rock powerhouse.
The guitar ballad “Happy Ever After (Zero Hour)” shows how Grohl’s relationship with Paul McCartney, who plays drums on the Steve Miller Band-drenched “Sunday Rain” here, has seeped into his songwriting, setting his sights on more details and grander statements.
It’s a microcosm of “Concrete and Gold” as a whole, as Grohl and the Foos go for more artistically than they have in years and succeed every time.