Albums Of The Week

Albums Of The Week: Foo Fighters’ latest album delivers comfort food for the rock soul

Do not expect the Foo Fighters' ninth and latest album to break new ground. Give in to its familiar rhythms instead

Frontman Dave Grohl's distinctive voice gives the album the trademark Foo Fighters stamp.
Frontman Dave Grohl's distinctive voice gives the album the trademark Foo Fighters stamp.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Let's get this fact out of the way first - there is hardly anything ground-breaking about American rock juggernauts Foo Fighters' ninth and latest album.

There are no brave detours outside their comfort zone, nothing to make fans used to their judicious blend of heaviness and melody sit up and scratch their heads.

But as rock 'n' roll albums go, Concrete And Gold is one piece of work to lose yourself in - put it on loud, with the volume knob turned all the way to 11.

Frontman and principal songwriter Dave Grohl has always been known to be a scholar in all things rock, with a mastery of the genre's wide range of sounds from the 1960s to the present.

As his early compositions with his previous band Nirvana can attest, he can come up with the most beautiful Beatlesque melodies. That knack is displayed here in the sweet-tempered nature of Happy Ever After (Zero Hour).

Grohl is also adept at channelling dense, pummelling rage, as heard in the black metal-like shrieks in Run and La Dee Da.



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There are nods to the 1970s - witness the boogie beats and Led Zeppelin-like guitar licks in Make It Right, the Queen-inspired, symphonic aspirations of opening track T-Shirt and krautrock rhythms of Dirty Water.

Given Grohl's career, it is not surprising that there are a lot of 1990s alt-rock touches spread throughout the album, including the odd time signatures in Arrows.

At the helm of Concrete And Gold is Greg Kurstin, a Grammy-winning producer known for his successes with adult contemporary artists such as Adele, who is as far removed from the Foos as you can get.

Yet there are no signs of the band going MOR (middle of the road). Instead it is Kurstin's offbeat work with his own indie-pop duo, The Bird And The Bee, that informs some of the album's dulcet touches, such as the multiple choral backing vocals found in many of the songs, including the title track, Make It Right, and The Sky Is A Neighborhood.

Grohl is generous with offering others the spotlight - drummer Taylor Hawkins steps up to sing on Sunday Rain, which also features ex-Beatle Paul McCartney standing in his place on drums; and Boys II Men tenor Shawn Shockton oversees a 30-voice choir - but it is still his distinctive voice, sometimes gentle, many times gnarly, that gives this release the trademark Foo Fighters stamp.

Concrete And Gold trades innovation for familiarity, but it is the aural version of comfort food for the rock soul.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2017, with the headline 'Comfort food for the rock soul'. Subscribe