The Colour And The Shape

The Colour And The Shape

Once Dave Grohl had cleared the hurdle of launching his post-Nirvana project with Foo Fighters’ 1995 self-titled debut—on which he juggled all the instruments—it was time to put an actual band together. Tapping bassist Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith from emo outfit Sunny Day Real Estate, along with Germs/Nirvana guitarist Pat Smear, Grohl then brought in Pixies producer Gil Norton to nail down the bracing contrasts and more personal songwriting of 1997’s The Colour and the Shape. Things didn’t go well at first: Initial sessions got scrapped, and Grohl wound up replacing most of Goldsmith’s contributions with his own, before hiring drummer Taylor Hawkins for future albums. Norton pushed the band especially hard, requesting take after take to get everything just right. Yet that disciplined approach paid off, yielding three Top 10 hits and what remains Foo Fighters’ best-selling album in the US. It also represents the band’s anointment as a mainstream rock powerhouse, both in the studio and onstage. Written in the fallout from Grohl’s divorce from photographer Jennifer Youngblood, these songs definitely cut more deeply than the first album’s lower-stakes power-pop. The most enduring anthem here—appropriately titled “Everlong”—is quite pointedly about connecting with someone on every possible level. All forward momentum, the song captures both the challenge and reward of true intimacy, kicking up the drama yet another notch with its whispered bridge and then adrenalized return. Lead single “Monkey Wrench” similarly balances the ecstatic and cathartic (“I’d rather leave than suffer this”), while “My Hero” comes closest to Sunny Day’s intricate emotional exorcisms. But there’s plenty more territory covered beyond those three hard-driving singles. Soft-sung opener “Doll” plays like an intentional link to the previous album’s demo-like intimacy, and the confiding acoustic ballad “Walking After You” feels all the more vulnerable following directly from “Everlong.” Likewise, the jaunty lightness of “See You” provides an immediate counterpoint to “My Hero.” Often singing with fresh pain in his voice here, Grohl proves himself to be not just a gifted songwriter but an undeniably impactful frontperson. And if you’re looking for foreshadowing of the tireless arena staple that the Foos would soon become, “Wind Up” ratchets up the band’s distorted riffing and even lets Grohl sneak in a proper scream.

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