Monday, April 8, 2019

100 Albums: "The Colour And The Shape" by Foo Fighters

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Foo Fighters
Title: The Colour And The Shape
Released: 1996
Genre: post-grunge hard rock



After Kurt Cobain died in 1993, Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl shut himself up in a studio for a week to record a project called Foo Fighters, a collection of songs he had personally penned some years prior. He ran from instrument to instrument recording almost the entire thing himself. It was an unexpected hit, driven by singles Big Me, This is a Call, and , but the worry with these sort of projects is that they're ephemeral. Would Grohl have more than one album in him? Turns out he did, and in 1996 the band Foo Fighters released a follow-up The Colour And The Shape, which would be the band's best selling record.

One great thing about Foo Fighters is that it sounds absolutely nothing like Nirvana. Nirvana was punk, but slower. Foo Fighters inherits more from the classic hard rock of the 70s: The Knack, Tom Petty, and so forth. Grohl cites Black Flag and Bay City Rollers as influences, as well as Nirvana-frontman Kurt Cobain. It has an American vibe. TCatS was written after Grohl went through a divorce, so unlike the self-titled debut--which Grohl went to great lengths to make the songs be not about anything--it has more introspective and personal lyrics, even if they remain vague and obscure. I don't know what "For a song that's indelible like manimal" from Wind Up is supposed to mean, but I believe that he means it. The music is more assured and complex. There are some huge hooks. Monkey Wrench and My Hero were in constant radio rotation when the album came out. The biggest hit was Everlong, and it's a phenomenal song, but there are some great deep cuts. Hey Johnny Park is one of my favorites. Walking After You would be a single from the X-Files movie soundtrack, but the original mix is here. That and the mid-album diversion See You are two incredibly fun songs to play on guitar, and sport some bizarre chord fingerings--unexpected after the power chord riff-rock that dominated the debut album.

But if I had to pick one favorite, it would be New Way Home, the album closer. It progresses like a typical rock anthem for two minutes and then just drops down to nothing. It then spends nearly two full minutes slowly building up in speed and volume before exploding right around the 4 minute mark. It's an incredible way to end a record.

Further Listening: If not for my one-album-per-artist rule, There Is Nothing Left To Lose would definitely be on this list. It produced the singles Learn To Fly, Stacked Actors, and Breakout, as well as what may be my all-time favorite Foo Fighters song Gimme Stitches. My wife and I have debated at length about which actually is actually the better album, and I usually come down on that the side of that one over The Colour And The Shape, since it's poppier and bit more accessible. But just going by density of great songs, I guess I have to admit that she was right.

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