- 15 Sep 17
Hello Yellow Brick Road...
Dave Grohl explained recently how his band wanted to make their biggest sounding record yet – “Motörhead’s version of Sgt. Pepper”. It’s a statement to arouse even the deaf, but it’s not entirely accurate. 2014’s Sonic Highways was recorded in several famous studios across America, a quest for fairydust that made for a more interesting TV documentary series than album. This time, they stayed in one place, Hollywood’s EastWest Studios, and unexpectedly hired pop supremo Greg Kurstin (Adele, Pink, Sia) as producer, a sidestep on a par with the unlikely pairing of Queens Of The Stone Age and Mark Ronson on the former’s recent Villains. Mind you, anyone who can write ‘Times Like These’ – good enough for the late Glen Campbell to cover – is hardly lacking a pop sensibility.
Opener ‘T-Shirt’ begins quietly with Grohl’s plaintive vocal, before knocking you across the room just as you reach for the volume knob. Singles ‘Run’ and ‘The Sky Is A Neighbourhood’ lay out the album’s plan of attack: soaring choruses broken apart by riffs that’ll rattle your molars. ‘Make It Right’ and ‘La Dee Da’ break into the QOTSA office, and make off with the till. ‘Dirty Water’, featuring Inara George (Kurstin’s partner in indie duo The Bird And The Bee), is almost gentle pop, until the riff bulldozes all that sweetness into a landfill.
Paul McCartney shows up behind the kit on ‘Sunday Rain’, which is pretty ironic, as it’s the kind of thing his mate Lennon used to knock out around Imagine, especially the verse melody “borrowed” from ‘How Do You Sleep?’. ‘Happy Ever After (Zero Hour)’ might leave Macca scratching his head, wondering when he recorded that jaunty ‘Heart Of The Country’-style guitar solo. The title track imagines Black Sabbath having a go at Dark Side Of The Moon, and features incongruous backing vocals from Justin Timberlake and Boyz II Men’s Shawn Stockman, although you’d never recognise them, as they’re multi-tracked to almost Queen levels.