The Foo Fighters have been a dependable institution in rock music for over 20 years, and even if their music isn't breaking any new ground, their longevity and consistency are impressive.
Precisely how consistent they've managed to be is remarkable given how much they've tried to change things up on recent records. Wasting Light was hyped for the Nirvana reunion and use of all-analog gear; Sonic Highways had a TV series documenting the subgenres and histories of the eight cities they worked in. The "making of" video for Concrete and Gold features a comically casual narration from Grohl about working with a big pop producer and a guest list including Shawn Stockman (of Boyz II Men), Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga and, oh yeah, Paul McCartney too.
Despite all this, these records are all still unmistakably Foo Fighters — they are their own sonic black hole, and any other musicians they work with inevitably just get sucked in. There are slight variations, sure, but for the most part of Concrete and Gold, it's the same anthemic, meat 'n' potatoes arena rock we've come to expect; a little more punk or metal aggression here, a little more acoustic balladry there, but the mould is the same.
That said, there are some gestures towards the edges of their comfort zone. "Dirty Water" has a sneaky twist, with two extra beats added to the verse structure; "Happy Ever After (Zero Hour)" is in their acoustic ballad style, but with a jazzier chord progression more likely inspired by the Beatles; "Sunday Rain" features a rare (but not unheard of) lead vocal from drummer Taylor Hawkins.
These quirks and Greg Kurstin's pop production help the record sparkle, but there's nothing life-changing for the band or the listener here. It's still a fun time, though. (Roswell/RCA)