If there was ever an album that defined my pre-teen through college years, it would be the Foo Fighters classic, The Colour and the Shape. The way Dave Grohl was able to add a sense of pop sensibility to the grunge aesthetic of the early 90s created a sound so infectious that it, for better or for worse, would shape the way alternative rock would sound for decades.
Chris DeVille of Stereogum ran a great piece on the Foo Fighters masterpiece on its 20th birthday. Here's a couple graphs from the story that sum up a lot of what makes this album still stand up all these years later:
The album’s greatest highlights, though, are the ones that drench Grohl’s melodic instincts in rocket fuel. After “Doll,” a prologue of sorts, the album’s opening run features a stunning sequence of power-pop gems. It begins with the furious “Monkey Wrench,” a song so tightly constructed that it seems to clench with more and more tension until it snaps. From there we get the dynamic “Hey, Johnny Park!” and the pulsing, pounding “My Poor Brain.” We get “Wind Up,” on which that old Nirvana sound resurfaces only to be upended by one of Grohl’s unmistakably catchy choruses. We get “Up In Arms,” a drowsy retro exercise that wakes up in a big way halfway through. And we get “My Hero,” a true alt-rock classic boasting some of Foo Fighters’ most memorable guitar and drum work, a hook for the ages, and emotional firepower befitting a tribute to Grohl’s late, great bandmate Cobain (even if Grohl has said it’s about “solid everyday people — people you can rely on”).
Add it all up and you’d have a tremendous album even without factoring in “Everlong,” the anthem of anthems, the pinnacle of Grohl’s songwriting career. But “Everlong,” inspired by Grohl’s passionate connection to Veruca Salt’s Louise Post in the aftermath of his marriage to Jennifer Youngblood, is there too, thank God. From its pantheon-level guitar riffs to its expertly escalating drama to its iconic Michel Gondry-directed music video — a surreal Evil Dead/Sid And Nancy parody in which Grohl’s hand periodically enlarges to comic extremes to slap his foes across the face — “Everlong” endures as not just Foo Fighters’ signature song but one of the greatest songs in rock history. Last month SPIN’s Jeremy Gordon wrote that he likes it better than any Nirvana song, which might be crazy but also speaks to the track’s legendary status among those of us who grew up loving the Foo Fighters. It’s glorious, and there’s nothing else quite like it in Grohl’s discography.
I agree with most of what DeVille has to say about Colour and The Shape. This was Grohl operating at his creative zenith, which is saying a lot for someone who many people call the greatest drummer in rock and roll history. I'm staunchly of the opinion that "Everlong" is the best song of the 90's and will fight anyone who disagrees. If you need a reminder what good rock music sounded like in the void that followed the grunge era, give this album a spin on whatever music listening service you prefer.