One of the hardest things for a rock band to do is to follow up on a strong debut album, but the Foo Fighters smashed any thoughts of a sophomore slump with this stellar second album. I’m not going to get into psycho-analyzing Dave Grohl’s mindset with regards to Kurt Cobain; amazingly, Rolling Stone’s review of the album went through great pains to tell us all about Grohl’s alleged state of mind, while failing to mention much at all about the actual music on the record! What I will say is that Cobain’s death and Grohl’s then breakup with his wife seem to weigh heavily on his mind, as Grohl reveals much more of himself here than on his catchy but cryptic debut.
I’ll also note that The Colour And The Shape is more of a band effort than the Grohl-dominated debut, and that most of these songs follow a similarly soft and then loud pattern, with big riffs and an even bigger beat carrying most melodies. Grohl’s vocals are also rougher this time around, which is ironic considering that Gil Norton’s production is much smoother than what was offered up on the demo-like debut. As for the songs, the awesome power pop surge of “Monkey Wrench,” towers over everything else on the album (especially memorable is its incredible “one last thing before I quit…” section, which I always sing – make that scream – along to). However, the pulverizing (drum) pop and epic chorus of “My Hero,” the tightly coiled, extremely intense groove rocker “Everlong,” and the softly whispered ballad “Walking After You” were also deservedly popular radio tracks. Foo Fighters re-recorded a superior version of “Walking After You” for the X-Files soundtrack.
Other catchy, hard-hitting highlights include “Hey, Johnny Park!” and “My Poor Brain,” while “See You” is surprisingly sweet and melodic (actually, the album on the whole is mellower than the debut). The rest of the album is rock solid as well; maybe some of the shorter songs are on the slight side, but only the grating “Enough Space” fails to really add anything to this fine overall package.