The Colour and the Shape

Band: The Foo Fighters
Album: The Colour and the Shape
Best song: The best three songs on this album — or any Foo Fighters album, for that matter — are “Everlong,” “Everlong” and “Everlong.”
Worst song: “Doll” is a stupid opener. “New Way Home” is dumb. “Up in Arms” isn’t great.

In my “Done” piece over at the RS Project, I mentioned that the RS list really should’ve had something on it by the Foo Fighters, largely on the basis that the Foo Fighters are probably the dominant rock band of the past 15 years.

Which, by the way, is a little odd to me. Nirvana is probably the defining band of my youth. As such, to have a generation of people — and it’s somewhat likely, I’d say — see Dave Grohl as the Foo Fighters guy before he’s the drummer from Nirvana… It’s very weird to me.

Especially because the Foo Fighters aren’t a particularly good band. They’re not necessarily bad, but they’re not really anything. The first record was interesting in its aggression and The Colour and the Shape has Grohl’s best songwriting, but the rest of the band’s catalog is pretty awful. Grohl’s need to be a stadium-rock-god-via-funny-video is irritating and makes for some very formulaic work.

With that said, The Colour and the Shape still has tinges of Grohl’s debut’s fierce punk on the margins. “Enough Space” is a driving record with a Pixies dynamic, “Monkey Wrench” is lightning-fast and has a picture perfect lead/background vocal toward the end of the song. The guitar line in “Wind Up” cuts like a chainsaw.

However, when Grohl decides to get sentimental, problems arise. “My Hero” sounds like something you’d hear before the Super Bowl (no, that’s not a compliment) and was wildly misinterpreted as an ode to Kurt Cobain. “Doll” is short and dumb, and “February Stars” is forgettable.

With all that said, The Colour and the Shape is worthwhile for two songs and two songs only. “Hey, Johnny Park!” is stadium rock at its best. More likely an ode to Cobain (“Am I Selling You Out?” being a key lyric), it’s a piece of a relationship that laments the past while celebrating today’s obsessions. The guitar melody remains one of Grohl’s best, his vocal is strained yet contained and Grohl’s drumming rivals that of his best Nirvana work.

And what of the best track in the Foos’ catalog, “Everlong?” The song’s elemental passion leaks through the dropped-d guitar riff, its urgency in its sped-up hi-hat time signature and its construction through its production. Grohl manages to make a song about relationship doubts while in the great moments undoubtedly in the song’s chorus:

If everything could ever feel this real forever.
If anything could ever be this good again.
The only thing I’ll ever ask of you.
You’ve got to promise not to stop when I say when.

It’s a monumental riff and a gorgeous lyric produced by a band that mostly traffics in cliches and nonsense.

Whatever you think of Grohl, he clearly knows how to game radio. His band’s hits number in the many, but his great songs both exist on this album. The bulk of the album isn’t all that bad, though. I am glad I own it.

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  • By Homework | Albums That I Own on May 18, 2011 at 3:28 am

    […] of 1997 that I saw the Smoking Popes open up for the Foo Fighters, touring to support the amazing Colour and the Shape. I tend to find the Foo Fighters to be a pretty awful band — arena rock has its place and […]

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  • About Me

    I'm Ross Jordan Gianfortune. I am not a writer, but I sometimes write here about music and my life. I live in Washington, DC.

    I used to review each of Rolling Stone Magazine's top 500 albums of all time. Now I'm writing about albums I own.

    My work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Gazette, The Atlantic, Sno-Cone and a bunch of defunct zines.

    You can contact me at rjgianfortune at gmail dot com.

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