Foo Fighters ninth album, Concrete and Gold, was like the Christmas morning of albums, an unexpected gift that topped off a summer of musical mayhem. For many people its announcement, and subsequent release, were a complete surprise and a welcome relief from the (mostly political) turmoil of the past year. Music is a beautiful medicine, especially in the wake of all things Brexit and Trump becoming president of the United States.
In fact, it’s that exact turmoil, specifically Trump, that seems to have been the fuel in the engine of the band’s latest album. A mix of aggressive rock and softer, more pop-like, songs the lyrics, as always can be interpreted in whatever way the listener chooses. But based on recent interviews with the band, as well as the commentary from the fans themselves, the songs do seem to have a political slant to them, one that speaks of lost hope and a smouldering spark for a better future.
Concrete and Gold has been a bit of a Marmite album. Some people love it while others hate it. There are a few who sit on the fence, a little unsure, perhaps, of the choice to do an album with a producer who works outside of the band’s known style. Yet these albums can be found in every band’s catalogues from Megadeth’s “Risk” (so named because it was a step away from their usual sound and seen as a risk) to Metallica’s “Lulu”. Sooner or later, bands try to shake up their sound a little, whether it’s a way to keep themselves fresh or because they feel that their world needs a change.
I’ve always been a fan of those riskier albums, the ones that people have in their collection but don’t always listen to. Albums that, over time, reveal more hidden gems than they were originally thought to contain. They’re those albums that, long after their original release, you take out and mull over, looking through the liner notes as you take in music and lyrics that may have dismissed on those initial listens so many months or years before.
For me, Concrete and Gold is an album that’s spoken to me on a far more personal level than I believed that it would. The daydream-like lyrics of The Sky Is A Neighbourhood allow me to lose myself in the wonders of the world around me, asking whether we’re alone in the universe and what other lifeforms would think of us and our self-destructive ways. Run is your perfect scream-along anthem and a call to arms in a world that appears to have gone mad.
The influences of other band members are evident on the album, from Chris’s country vibes to Taylor’s love of disco. There do seem to be issues with the final mix, ones that leave it a little too compressed and quiet. However, for an album that appears to be an experiment of sorts, Concrete and Gold is a good first shot at doing something a little different.
While the album may not be to everyone’s tastes, it gives you the feeling that, at some point in the future, it will be one of those records that evokes memories of a time when people needed to band together in order for their voices to be heard. In essence, it’s a time capsule for a period that we hope that we will never have to visit again.
Foo Fighters are currently on tour. A full list of tour dates can be found at: https://foofighters.com/#tour