September 19, 2017

TEST SPIN | Foo Fighters — Concrete and Gold

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In the world of modern rock and roll, one group has reigned supreme for the better part of this millennium: Foo Fighters.

The group was founded by Dave Grohl in 1994 as a solo project following the separation of Nirvana on account of Kurt Cobain’s passing. And with the help of guitarist Pat Smear and drummer Taylor Hawkins, Grohl has brought Foo Fighters to critical acclaim and mass popularity.

Throughout the years, Foo Fighters have had numerous top singles, including the David-Letterman-endorsed “Everlong,” along with several world tours and major festival headlining spots. They even were able to command an audience at this years BottleRock Festival despite festival organizers pulling the plug on the sound during the end of their set.

The Foo Fighters have been called rock’s most consistent group, as they have been able to turn out stadium-worthy record after stadium-worthy record since their inception. Their previous album, Sonic Highways, took the band across the country on a journey of self discovery to record in different major studios. And while this approach created an interesting perspective within their music, Foo Fighters decided to return to the basics for their most recent release.

Recorded in a single studio in LA, Concrete and Gold is the Foo’s attempt to branch out from the anthem rock that brought their sound to the masses. But this seems too daunting a task for them even with help from featured artists such as Sir Paul McCartney, Justin Timberlake and producer extraordinaire Greg Kurstin, who has worked with the likes of Adele and Katy Perry.

The Foo’s ninth studio album sounds all too familiar; heavy guitar licks, entertaining lyrics, head pounding beats and love songs. Nothing too political. The Foo fail to take advantage of their platform and opportunity to say something profound.

Although there is a general lack of substance and power to the release, there are a few standout tracks — most notably the luscious 80’s rock intro “T-shirt” which calls to mind the sonics of Queen and Styx, the psychedelic “Happy Ever After (Zero Hour)” and the Pink Floydian title track “Concrete and Gold.” However, these are diamonds in the rough.

Beyond these few gems, lies an album riddled with blunders such as the decision to enlist Macca to lay the drum track on “Sunday Rain,” despite the presence of two of the greatest rock drummers alive today in Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins. “Run,” the so-called song of the album, comes across as a less exciting recreation of “Monkey Wrench,” and “La Dee Da” sounds like a cheap attempt at sounding like Lynyrd Skynyrd.

While Concrete and Gold is by no means a bad album, it is not what we expect when a band of this caliber says it’s creating something like “Slayer Making Pet Sounds.” It seems that Foo Fighters may have finally exhausted their well of inspiration. After all, lyrics such as “just trying to keep my t-shirt clean” can conjure only so much emotion. For fans, the hope for a repeat of the raw emotion and power that drove The Colour and The Shape is gone.

The musical culture of 2017 is one of politics and heavy emotion, and Foo Fighters seem to match that culture in every way but the most important one, a desire to express political ideologies. Instead of creating something important, they chose to make more of the same, and a few years ago, hell maybe even a few months ago, this would have been more than enough to get people talking. But the values of grunge and dispassionate rock have been rendered obsolete in our current society. It’s time for the Foo to escape the chains of tradition and create something that is as monumental today as The Colour and The Shape was in 1997.


Peter Buonanno is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected].