The Dave Grohl-led band Foo Fighters is now America’s biggest band. That’s saying something seeing that the Foos has just marked their 20th year as a group.
How did the band clinch the feat? By consistently delivering one rocking album after another, and by being fearless in trying out the unexpected.
These are practically the same catalysts used in crafting their latest album “Concrete And Gold.”
Dave Grohl recruited (or as he put it, begged) Greg Kurstin of electronic pop-jazz duo The Bird And The Bee to record the Foos’ ninth album. Kurstin is an ace keyboardist and has produced for Adele, Pink and Sia.
Dave wanted Kurstin’s pop sensibilities on the album as “I wanted it to be the biggest sounding Foo Fighters record ever,” the former Nirvana drummer said, envisioning an album of what he called as “Motorhead’s version of ‘Sgt. Pepper.”
The resulting songs from this partnership are balanced melding of melody and heaviness. From the gentle folk-sy acoustic guitar opening of “T-Shirt,” which gives way to an all-out electrified Beatle-esque overture, we know this association is going to work.
By all accounts, the Foo Fighters are still doing what they do best and that’s dishing out guitar-centric numbers that go from quiet to loud to loudest. Like on the scream-and-thump of opening track “Run.” Ditto on classic rock-riffed “Make It Right,” where Kurstin’s influence is first felt, with those harmonized “aahhs” on the choruses.
More of those voicings, which recall “Because” from “Abbey Road,” appear on the thundering track that is “The Sky Is A Neighborhood.” Hints of Beatle-like melodies are strewn across the Foos’ new set. Besides those harmonized vocal back-ups that remind of Fabs and The Beach Boys, there’s the straight on McCartney-esque appeal of “Happy Ever After (Zero Hour).”
“Concrete And Gold” features a star-studded list of guests. Inara George, vocalist of The Bird And The Bee, sings back-up on the toned down Foo approach on “Dirty Water” (which rips to “11” eventually). Justin Timberlake dropped a few “aahs” on “Make It Right.” While Boyz II Men’s Shawn Stockman went full tilt and sang harmonies on the album’s title track.
Jazz musician David Koz plays sax on deep fuzzed “La Dee Da” alongside vocals by Alison Mosshart of the The Kills. Saving best for last is Grohl’s buddy Paul McCartney, who took over the most revered seat in the Foo Fighters, by playing drums on the classic rock jam “Sunday Rain.”
It’s still The Foo Fighters here, that’s for sure. But expect the heaviness to be nuanced with arranged harmonies and melodies and all that good stuff.