The Foo Fighters’ 2017 Concrete & Gold was hit or miss for me. While it had a lot of strong tracks, many of them were forgettable. It was certainly better than its predecessor, Sonic Highways, but nowhere near as good as 2011’s Wasting Light (and my personal favorite Foo Fighters album). That’s a high bar, admittedly, and not entirely fair.
Foo Fighters have shown incredibly evolution and growth with each album, even after being a band for almost 30 years. It seems Dave Grohl’s passion and inspiration never runs out, as he finds somewhere new on each album to go to and draw songs from. I appreciate that a Foo album never feels half-assed or mailed-in. With time, I’ve grown to accept Concrete & Gold for what it is and would like to analyze it a little further with track reviews and rankings.
Without further ado, here’s the great, the okay, and the not so good. Ranked from my least favorite to my favorite. Your results may vary.
11. “Happy Ever After (Zero Hour)” – Acoustic guitar with a light-hearted melody that’s easy on the ears. It’s not bad, but it does nothing for me. It sounds like something Paul McCartney would write. That’s a compliment, and any other writer or critic might fawn over this type of bravery and maturity, but that’s not what I expect from the Foo Fighters. This kind of song isn’t their forte, nor would I expect it to be. Kudos for trying though.
10. “Concrete and Gold” – This song is hard to like because of the way it plods along. It seems to be in the wrong time signature, though I don’t know enough about time signatures to explain why I think that. The beat just sounds off, like it doesn’t match the melody. However, its redeeming quality is the crescendo of harmonies and lyrical strength. This had a lot of potential to be a great song, but the rhythm is so distractingly bad.
9. “T-Shirt” – This would be a good song if they fleshed it out. Besides the fact that it’s under 2 minutes, it’s not a full song. It just ends abruptly and blends into the next track. That’s the only reason it’s this far down.
8. “La Dee Da” – This song has grown on me, but I don’t like when songs do that. I want to like it or hate it immediately and never have my mind opened to changing my opinions. Then, what? I’m forced to acknowledge that we are malleable creatures capable of change? It should be higher, but I didn’t want to admit I was wrong.
7. “Dirty Water” – This feels like an older Foo song to me, but with some of the refined wisdom and polish of newer Foos. It’s a melodic tune that steps out of their normal wheelhouse, but with the solid lyricism from Dave Grohl and the guys that I expect.
In my dreams I’m climbing ladders
And then I tumble down, rung by rung
And I keep on falling faster
The heart is echoing, on and on
6. “Arrows” – I struggled with this and “The Line” at this point in the rankings. I like that “Arrows” tells a story. It has some powerful imagery and a pretty kick ass chorus. It feels like a war cry, but also like a tribute to the girl in the song. I like everything about it.
5. “The Line” – This song makes it to the top five on sheer heart-tugging alone. The first verse hooks you in, only to have the rest of the song drag you around, emotionally. You feel what Grohl is singing, you’re in the middle of this relationship with him, you are fighting this fight with him. It’s more personal than some of the songs on the album, whether or not its autobiographical.
Yes or no?
What is truth
But a dirty black cloud coming out of the blue?
I was wrong
I was right
I’m a blood moon born in the dead of night
4. Make It Right – I remember liking this song immediately upon hearing it. When thinking back to the track listing, “Make It Right” always stood out. But I can’t ever remember why. For some reason, it vaguely reminds me of “Erase/Replace” from Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace. It’s an in-your-face rock song, it seems to be making some kind of statement or point. The guitar riff is so unlike anything I’m used to hearing from them, yet it fits perfectly with the swagger and rhythm of the song. It almost sounds like it wants to be an alternative country song. Almost.
3. The Sky is a Neighborhood – Unlike a lot of other longtime fans, I liked this song when I first heard it. I think it’s got a cool vibe, and I like the lyrical imagery. Instead of making a balls-to-the-wall rock song like “Pretender” or “Bridge Burning” as a lead-off single, “Sky” is, at times, subdued, and at other points, a natural-born rock song. It’s still Foo, through and through. The nasty guitars, the beautiful harmonies. They’re good at evolving, but staying true to their sound. This is a perfect example of that.
2. Run – This was my favorite song for awhile on this album and it very nearly still is. “Run” is everything I want from the Foo Fighters. Lulling you into a false sense of security, then rocking your face. I love when they become unhinged and just rock out. Sorry, “Happy Ever After”, this is way more my style.
1. Sunday Rain – One of the best songs the Foo Fighters have ever released. I’m surprised to say that about a Taylor Hawkins-led Foo Fighter song, but I’m here to pay respect where it is due. I’ve never been a big fan of “Cold Day in the Sun”, or his voice in general (he sang a cover of “Under Pressure” when I saw the Foos live in 2018), but this song is perfect for him. It sounds ever-so-slightly like the Eagles, but not so blatantly that it’s a ripoff. It has brilliant lyrics, a perfect melancholy melody, and the greatest instrumental outro that just keeps on giving, eventually fading way into the jazzy piano improvising. I hope they do more songs like this in the future.