Albums In Review

Concrete And Gold: The Foo Fighters

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Any hopes that the Foo Fighters would modify their sound may have been long flushed down the toilet. The reliability of that solid anthemic aura was stretched so far along the years that it grew into taedium vitae, even for some worshippers. The band announced that Concrete and Gold would be Motorhead’s version of Sgt. Pepper’s. No, this is not a neo-psychedelic heavy metal album at all, and the Foo Fighters aren’t going through some avant-garde revitalisation. Like its predecessor, Sonic Highways, the Foo Fighters invite invisible guests to the table. Paul McCartney, Justin Timberlake and Boyz II Men apparently feature here, but you wouldn’t know.

However, confounding low expectations, there is a decent amount to like about this record. Concrete and Gold boasts melodic and lyrical warmth, unlike predecessor Sonic Highways. Instrumentally, Concrete and Gold is the Foo’s most audacious effort for a while, often incorporating rhythmic changes of paces. The track “Run” catapults into grisly screamo one minute in, before reverting to melancholic sentiment about the longing for a communal freedom from political chaos – “in a perfect light, we run.” The descriptive, metaphorical nature of this record gives it a tender, more visual feel to it. Although Grohl’s poetic oeuvre on “Happy Ever After (Zero Hour)” is laughable pastiche.

Entangling electric guitar triads on “Make It Right” coda provide a terrific kinetic effect. The echoing fuzzy buzz of “La Dee Da” is the instant highlight, with Grohl’s guttural roar filtered to evoke a death metal yelp. Narrative escapade “Arrows” also works, detailing a vulnerable girl – “arrows in your eyes, tears in your arteries” before guitars flood in like water in a shipwreck.  You get the sense however that Concrete and Gold could have done with some more stadium-worthy fist-pumpers on a par with “Monkey Wrench” or “Times Like These” to justify their status a bit more.

Grohl described Concrete and Gold as the Foo Fighters’ “weird” album. While it can’t be classified as such, it has a reassuring hint of ambition there, quaint experimentation and energy that conveys that even tweaking the formula to the most minimal degrees can reap rewards for a band suffering a mid-life crisis.

CT Rating: 7/10

Love What Survives – Mount Kimbie

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In the era of hyper-synthetic production, it’s difficult to imagine dance music as coming from anything other than a machine. The third Mount Kimbie record succeeds in transmitting some of the most organic body-shuffling beats. Compared to 2013’s Cold Spring Fault Less Youth, this is a more expansive, eclectic album.

The way the instruments gradually pile on top of each other is impressive, giving great momentum and urgency. Drums seamlessly fade in joining a flock of hollow synths before the bass plays lead role in the opener, “Four Years and One Day.” Meanwhile, “Delta” initially sounds like a bunch of beeping cars having a rave and then turns into a moody organ jam.

It’s impossible to pin down a genre to this album. Although Mount Kimbie have been associated with the origination of the loose term post-dubstep, they stray far from electronic touches that defined previous work. There are ethnic and Krautrock elements to Love What Survives. It is much easier to imagine these tracks played by a four-piece band than two men at the decks.

Save for the lugubrious whining of James Blake, the vocal turns slot into the LP nicely. King Krule splurts out provocative images of popping veins, razorblades and junkies in manic verses on “Blue Train Lines.” It’s like he’s seeking to expunge his crippling anxieties by spilling them out in visceral detail. The lo-fi lounger “You Look Certain (I’m Not So Sure)” features a mellow, monotone Andrea Balency nonchalantly singing over a tropical guitar backing.

The London duo expertly transition from instrumentals to these guest-driven numbers. Love What Survives therefore sways along well taking pit stops, to outreach for some emotional structure in between the polyrhythmic paraphernalia. But overall it’s really an album to lose yourself in, to fixate on the sum of its parts and transport you into a future where robots and computers aren’t so ubiquitous.

CT Rating: 8.5/10


Adam Bielenberg – Music Editor

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