Foo Fighters were supposed to be on a long break. That’s what they said as they released the Saint Cecilia EP to thank their fans. Well, it didn’t take too long before Dave Grohl got the itch to start working again. Seemingly out of nowhere, they released the single for “Run.” That was our first taste of Concrete and Gold.
On the morning it came out, I made a pit stop on my way to work to buy the CD. “T-Shirt” kicks it off a little awkwardly with Grohl on an acoustic guitar singing about keeping his T-shirt clean. It reminded me of Adam Sandler’s “Red Hooded Sweatshirt”. Then it got epic and, just as I was starting to get into it, the song was over. At just over a minute, it seems like a waste of a track.
That led into “Run.” This is your standard Foo Fighters single. Slow, then heavy, then heavier and very melodic. Great song, with a lot going on. This led to “Make It Right”. This is the best guitar track on the CD (more on this in a minute). A strong riff, catchy chorus…reminds me of Cheap Trick. Even finding out that Justin Timberlake does the “la’s” doesn’t ruin it.
“The Sky is a Neighborhood” is next. Very catchy. Good song, although Grohl sounds like he’s singing in a sound booth. His lyrics usually jump out at you, but here they seem set back. I’m assuming that was intentional, but it doesn’t work well for the song. The heavy, but electronic “La Dee Da” follows. As much as I hate heavy synthesizers (again, more on this in a minute), it works with this song. This is the heaviest and most badass track on the CD. So just as this song was winding down, I’m thinking that this CD is going to be right up there with Cheap Trick’s We’re All Alright for best CD of the year. And then…
“Dirty Water” starts and brings it all down. This song is just out of place and kills the vibe of the CD. “Arrows” is a moody, synthesizer-driven song. It’s just not a great song. Next up is “Happy Ever After (Zero Hour)” which (in my best David Spade voice) I liked it better when it was called “Blackbird”…by the Beatles. It’s just a boring acoustic song that goes nowhere.
Finally, “Sunday Rain” gets them back on track. Featuring Paul McCartney on drum and Taylor Hawkins on vocals, it still has a heavy Beatles influence, but it works well here. Hawkins gets a chance to show off his voice on a song that suits him well.
“The Line” is another epic track that unfortunately is synthesizer-driven. It’s a great song, but needs more guitar. I can’t wait to hear it live, where hopefully, they’ll bring the guitars more into the mix. Regardless, this may be the most solid song on the CD.
The closer is the title track and it’s just…awful. It’s slow and droning (is that a word?). It’s got a strong Pink Floyd vibe if you take their worst, most boring songs and combined them.
Overall, it’s a solid Foo Fighters release. There are some high points on the CD, but it misses the mark in a few spots. My biggest surprise is that, for a band with a triple guitar attack, I’m left wanting a lot more guitar. The synthesizers almost completely drown out the guitars in too many spots, so much so that I found myself comparing it to Bon Jovi’s latest This House is Not For Sale. That CD was also a bit guitar light, but it was their first CD without Richie Sambora, so it was almost expected. This was a surprise.
Greg Kurstin (who also produced Adele and Sia) produced the CD and I’m not a fan. The CD is overproduced. Also, they do a lot of layered vocals (a la The Beatles or the Beach Boys). It’s something Grohl has always wanted to add, but couldn’t figure it out. Kurstin did, but they use it on almost every song. It’s just too much. A little restraint would have gone a long way.
This CD will continue to paint Foo Fighters as the only relevant rock band today, as they’ll likely continue showing up anywhere a token rock band is needed (Emmys, MTV Awards, Grammys, etc.). I didn’t want to look before writing this review, but I’m curious what the reviews are from other diehard fans. It’s a good CD, but I’m hoping the synth-happy direction is a one-time occurrence.