Finally, Dave Grohl’s inevitable transition into a flannel shirt-wearing Freddie Mercury-with-tats is complete. Kicking off the ninth Foo Fighters album with one minute and 22 seconds of Queen-worthy bombast, the glistening sonic flare that is ‘T-Shirt’ sets the tone for a blistering, high-gloss ‘Concrete and Gold’, a record that features some of the band’s most vital and impressive tracks in years.
Following up 2014’s ‘Sonic Highways’ – a conceptual indulgence which saw the group travelling to some of the US’s most legendary music studios – this is a return to a more simple way of doing things. Written in his pants in an Airbnb in the hippy enclave of Ojai, California, this back-to-basics, underwear-driven approach has served Grohl well. ‘Run’ is up there with some of the Foos’ most impressive work, a throwback to the raw riffs of the self-titled 1995 debut and bare bones emotion of its follow-up ‘The Colour and the Shape’. The subtle force of funk is also a key factor in the sheer buoyancy of ‘Concrete and Gold’, with ‘Make It Right’ plugging into an almost Prince-ly groove. It’s a move that gently echoes their pals Queens of the Stone Age, who recently worked with pop producer Mark Ronson. Taking a similar tack, the Foos have teamed up with Greg Kurstin – known for his work with the likes of Lily Allen, Adele and Sia – and his added gloss makes this album really glimmer.
Grohl said he wanted it to sound like “Motörhead’s version of Sgt Pepper”. Gracefully mixing the rough with the smooth throughout, he’s not far off. The visceral ‘La Dee Da’ is a case in point, mixing up the slick Southern rock swing of the Allman Brothers with a screamo chorus and mega-riffs. This is an album where acoustic ballads like ‘Happy Ever After’ that recall the Beatles sit comfortably alongside moody ragers like ‘The Line’. Proof that there’s definitely still life in the old Grohl left.