FIRST IMPRESSIONS Volume 45: Foo Fighters – The Color And The Shape

FIRST IMPRESSIONS Volume 45: Foo Fighters - The Color And The Shape

FIRST IMPRESSIONS Volume 45: Foo Fighters – The Color And The Shape

This is the forty-fifth entry of my blog series ‘First Impressions.’ In each entry of the series I write about discovering an influential or genre-classic album for the first time and then write about that experience in a semi-planned, semi-stream of consciousness manner that is less helpful than a traditional album-review, but which does contain more personal flavour.

I prefer my reviews to be serious and informative. ‘First Impressions’ allow for a more director’s commentary approach. I can be silly and talk bollox, or make points that only a handful of people will understand. Usually I will deliver insights into my history with similar music as well as into how my mind works and how both of these things change over time. You will have to either possess a fairly detailed understanding of Rock and Metal history and Subgenre conventions or have a second tab open at Wikipedia to fully follow every single point that I make, but don’t let that put you off…I’m not honestly expecting you to know every single riff or tone I’ll point out off by heart.

Now before I get into things, I’d like to take a completely unrelated side note to thank Bozemanbiology on Youtube for existing. I’ve been struggling all week to keep Anatomical and Physiological information in my head, such as what is made in Chromaffin cells, How Blood Groups work, Which hormones come from the anterior pituitary vs. which come from the posterior pituitary, The difference between red and yellow bone marrow, how mitosis and meiosis differ etc.

Bozemanbiology and their teacher Mr. Anderson are the best thing ever for getting that sort of thing clear in your head. Clear, informative, amusing videos with a great personality. All for free on Youtube. Awesome.


Taking a break from revision, popular demand (PAUL-pular demand) calls for a new First Impressions to be released before 2pm. I oblige.

This edition will be about The Foo Fighters third and possibly most popular album, The Colour And The Shape. Something that’s been in my vicinity all my life, but that I’ve never totally got into.

When most of my peers think of Dave Ghrol they think of a sentence like ‘The Nice Guy Of Rock.’ And a Foo Fighters song. When the generation above me think of him, they think about Nirvana.

My immediate Dave Ghrol mental image is of him as he was on the QOTSA Troubadour concert bonus DVD. I actually painted a picture of that at school.

Come to think of it. I now always also remember him on the Lemmy documentary talking to Lemmy about Little Richard being Black and Gay in the South in the 1950s.

Also, while typing this, I remembered that MTV2 sock puppet thing, and also the pro-smoking advertisement he did as a joke.

The Foo Fighters themselves though, much like The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, were a band for everyone else. All my friends liked them. All the people who didn’t like Metal, but played instruments in school liked them. I remember what a big deal it was when their double album In Your Honour was released and I’d see dozens of people who I never knew liked Rock music exchange it in hallways or the canteen.

I’ve always loved a few Foo Fighters songs. ‘The One,’ ‘One By One,’ ‘Disenchanted Lullabye,’ and ‘Breakout’ being the prime candidates. I’ve also quite enjoyed ‘Low’ ‘My Hero’ and also the tracks ‘Staked Actors’ and ‘The Pretender’ which I heard very late into their existence. I’ve not heard their new album which everybody love though.

I actually once bought the CD single of ‘Times Like These’ and I have their cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Have A Cigar’ in my iTunes although I haven’t heard it in many years. I think it was on the same MI2 Soundtrack cd that had Metallica’s ‘I Disappear’ and Rob Zombie’s ‘Scum Of The Earth’ on it.

But some Foo Fighters things always annoyed me. Comedy Videos. I always had a problem with comedy videos for some reason. I used to watch hours and hours of music videos, and things like ‘Learn To Fly’ annoyed me a lot as a teenager. Maybe also a sort of tribal, territorial, subconscious jealousy of their popularity among people I disliked. Who knows. Teenagers are pricks. Especially me at the time.

I never got into them properly as a band. They are more of a thing. And a thing for other people. Like, Star Wars. Its not a film anymore. Or Pro Evo computer games. Or, getting drunk. Like MTVs Jackass. Other people go nuts for it, I see a few sketches and laugh, but I’d never buy a DVD.

I’ve been played moments of just about all their albums, but none of it really sticks. I remember there’s a song for all the cows. And a lot of limp, unexciting blandness.


‘Doll’ opens up like one of the tracks on The Wall that show how depressed Pink is. Its all on-a-handheld-radio sounding. It then wafts into life, reminding me a bit of Incubus’ Morning View album. Then a big drum fill. And the third track ‘Hey Johnny Park’ comes on. Hmmm. Shuffle was on.

So. Moving it back, ‘Monkey Wrench’ comes on. I always liked this one too, come to think of it. Its just a really hooky, pleasant song. It appeals to the part of me that likes Green Day and tried to like Blink 182 and The Offspring but failed to. The bits where he says ‘one in ten’ are surprisingly heavy. The end of this song is really good. I forgot about Taylor Hawking being a good drummer. I remember enjoying him a lot on the Coheed And Cambria documentary.

Next up comes ‘Hey, Johnny Park’ again. It started out a bit rocking. Then it moves soft. I’ve never heard Dave use that voice before. Then it goes into this half-heavy, but ultra soft and melodic sort of pre-chorus for a chorus that never comes. I reminds me a lot of Incubus again, and some of the little guitar notes sound like RHCP. The second time around, that pre-chorus that’s actually a chorus makes a better impression. Then when the bit-rocking bit from the intro comes back in, its really exciting, its got a sort of post-hardcore feel. Well, if not for the production. This is quite enjoyable song. The end where they go a bit stompy is good.

Next ‘My Poor Brain’ slithers on screen, in the theater of the mind, in the land of ear, in the galaxy of tortured metaphores, in a sort of Mars Volta-esque noise fest, soon transitioning into a super soft jaunty intro. The way the drums work when the heavy bit comes in are very In Utero. I wonder if Dave wrote that drum beat?
That heavier bit comes back and is good. Then extends into a new also rockin part that is also good. Then this really slidey Atom Heart Mother sounding guitar lead that totally changes the song’s mood. This is a pretty decent song all around.

‘Wind Up.’ That’s what’s next. It comes on. With some feedback and noise. When it kicks in it sounds for half-a-second like its going to sound like The Darkness’ ‘Love Is Only A Feeling’ then actually turns out to be the closest thing to Nirvana that I’ve ever heard by The Foo Fighters. It also reminds me a tiny bit of Jimmy Eat World when it goes into this middle bit with a sort of guitar solo. I like Dave’s voice when he gets screamy and the song is very cool when he does that heavy version of the previous bit. I can see how the band appeals to all sorts of rock fans. They have a lot of that thing that makes heaviness good, but they hide it behind screens of pleasantness that stops it alienating too many fans of exclusively soft things.

‘Up In Arms’ is all over the place. Lots of different moods in a short time. Its very Pearl Jam. It reminds me of a mixture of ALL the songs on Lost Dogs, and also ‘Mankind’ off of No Code. Its so happy and sad at the same time. Its bitter sweet. When the scooped chug comes in, it sounds like a mixture of Green Day’s ‘Redundant’ and ‘Waiting’ emotionally, but much faster. Its brief, its punchy, its gone.

Next up comes a surprise cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Bonzo’s Montreaux’ or Mushroomhead’s ‘Harvest The Garden’ says a racist. A racist in a world where drum intros are an ethnicity. That’s not this world though, so ‘My Hero’ comes on. I like it. The way the drums and bass lock it feels like a Down song is going to come in, but then the alternative squawk of the guitar comes in and changes the direction. Hmm. I never noticed how much the verses of this song sound like Jetplane Landing. The chorus happens, I liked it already. Then there’s the very Coheedy post-chorus “dung-dedda-dung-dada.” Halfway through, it builds up, then has this new bit that sounds like Load era Metallica for the briefest of moments and then does the chorus again only its more lively somehow. The way the drums work remind me of Coheed’s cover of GOTYE’s ‘Someody That I Used To Know.’

Next up is ‘See You.’ It reminds me of ‘Dilly-boys’ ‘Cyclops’ ‘Never Never’ and ‘I Got Sweets’ by The Libertines all mixed into one. There’s also something about it that feels like it could fit on Green Day’s Nimrod album. It also sounds like it could transition into the King Of The Hill theme tune at any moment. But it doesn’t. More’s the pitty.

‘Enough Space’ glitches around next. Then has a very Nirvana sounding bass line. And some noisy guitar. Ok. Where are you going with this Mr. Ghrol? Ok. Now a soft bit. Nope. Soft + Noise. Then the loud. And another cycle of that sequence. I’m not sure how to feel about this one. Oh. The bit that breaks that sequence is awesome. Very QOTSA. Then the chorus and it ends.

‘February Stars’ is next. It’s all soft and ballady and pleasant. It sounds romantic. The drums work on Pearl Jam mechanics. Its refreshingly constant-soft. It reminds me of Seagulls and loss. Ughh. They broke it with a loud bit. Now its kind of like, lost its appeal.

Mega-single ‘Everlong’ comes on. It is good. Its quite bittersweet too. Its so established in my brain already that I have literally nothing else to say. So instead I’ll tell you that there was an experiment to see what LSD did to elephants. They give it a really high dose injection and it flipped out and dropped dead. Then years later they give some smaller doses in their water and they survived. Also, Aldosterone is a steroid hormone released from the Adrenal Medulla that promotes water retention at the nephrons of the kidney by making them retain sodium, which the water osmotically follows, that therefore raises blood volume (as the water in the blood not is lost in urine) and by increasing the amount of blood that the heart needs to push around, blood pressure is increased.

‘Walking After You’ comes on and is the same as ‘I’ll Be Coming Home Next Year’ according to my hazy memory. Its like an Alternative era reinterpretation of The Saw Doctor’s ‘Claire Island.’

The last song is ‘New Way Home’ which is a bit of a mystery. I’m not sure what it wants to be. Its pleasant enough. It gets going with a cool build-up quite late into it. I goes a bit rockin.

Then the album is over.

It was ok. I kind of feel like I didn’t listen to it though. It had a bit more life to it and unexpected directions than the bland Sludge I’d been thinking of the Foo Fighters as.

I kind of can’t concentrate on it though. My mind is excited by Armored Saint, Angra, 7 Seconds, SS Decontrol, Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, Madball, Twisted Sister, Exhumed, Mortician and Cattle Decapitation at the minute (odd mix) because I was amending THE LIST and kind of got lost in a rabbit hole. A rabbit maze. A rabbit haze. Purple Rabbit. Purple haze. Look. I don’t particularly care about the Foos right now. The album kind of passed by unnoticed, even with me documenting it.

Not a new favourite. Better than expected, but not a new favourite. Cheery-bye.

[Side Note: is there anything better in a music video than the way Blaze Bailey pumps his first in ‘Manhunt’ or the way he points at the card with “manhunt” written on it, like some kind of Heavy Metal Mrs. Doyle in New Jack City.]


  1. Some thoughts.

    It’s their second album, first off. Also, I enjoyed Jackass DVDs despite thinking I wouldn’t be able to. The three films (and two spin-off re-edit films) hold up particularly well.

    Taylor doesn’t drum on this record and wasn’t in the band when it was recorded. The jury’s still out on whether he actually plays on the subsequent record, There Is Nothing Left To Lose, either. So if you wonder if Dave wrote something, drumwise, he did. All of it. Performed.

    For a long time, this was one of my favourite albums. It’s not so much any more. Also, the reissue features the excellent title track and a few good covers (Killing Joke and Gary Numan among them). Liner notes explain that the use of the English spelling of Colour in the title was a tribute to Gil Norton, their English producer.


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