The Colour and the Shape is the second album from the rock band Foo Fighters. It was released on May 20, 1997 by Capitol Records, and totals forty six minutes and forty seven seconds over thirteen tracks.
This is the first album in which Foo Fighters actually could be called a band, because the first album from 1995 was mostly a Dave Grohl solo project where he exorcised the demons from the Nirvana days and recorded some of the material he had written during the life of Nirvana. This album is much more of a group effort, with Dave mostly on vocals, Nate Mendel on bass, Pat Smear on guitar, and William Goldsmith on drums (at least most of the time; Dave supposedly does drumwork on some of the tracks); even though all of the songs are written by Dave, there is much more of a full band feel here.
Another significant change in the music is the better production. Whether this is for better or worse, The Colour and the Shape sounds more polished than the debut album. That's not to say that the music doesn't still sound like a rough-edged rock album; it does. But to my ears, the recording is simply better.
Another change in this album is that Dave's anger seems to be focused more at his own personal life (and his dissolving marriage) than at his former band, which was somewhat the focus of the first album. One can hear this again and again in the lyrics: most of the songs here are about relationships that are failing or have already failed.
This album is one of those anomalies in that it appeals to pretty much everyone. It rocks quite hard, yet maintains enough of a pop sensibility that people won't call it pure noise, either. It manages to straddle that line incredibly well.
The album opens up with the very melancholic, low-key Doll (1:23), a short little number that seems very much like a prelude. It takes on an almost resigned tone of acceptance of a great deal of bad luck, which matches Dave's life appropriately at the time as he was in the beginnings of a messy divorce.
The second track was the first single from the album, Monkey Wrench (3:51). In strong contrast with the opener, this song rocks hard. It's the freight train of emotion that the first song held back on; the anger underneath the sadness. The guitar work here is particularly amazing, giving this song a great rock feel.
Hey Johnny Park! (4:08) is good enough to be a single, and the rumor was that it was considered to be a fifth single from the album. The song alternates between a melancholic acoustic piece to a rock segment and back again, creating an interesting mix. The latter part of the song builds up into a great hard rocking conclusion.
My Poor Brain (3:33) starts off hugely reminiscent of the band's earlier hit Big Me until dropping into a fantastic rock refrain, and then repeating the whole thing a few times. It's a song about confusion about relationships with other people in pretty much every way, and the result is that you begin to even question yourself. Excellent rock.
The fifth track, Wind Up (2:32), is another hard rock piece, and at least to this point in the album, it's a much harder rocking disc than their debut. The guitar and drum work are both great here, making this one of the best rocking tracks on the album, right up there with Monkey Wrench. The lyrics are also interesting, about wanting to write and listen to the greatest of rock songs to take the pain away.
The first minute or so of Up In Arms (2:15) is very melancholic, providing a nice intermission in the album, but the second half again returns to the melodic hard rock formula of the rest of the album. This song is unnotable except for the fact that the first half serves as sort of a breather.
The group's biggest hit (and their third single from the album) is My Hero (4:20), coming at the midpoint of the album. This is classic arena-style guitar hero rock, and it comes off very well. The refrain is one of those moments in music that absolutely gives you shivers because everything clicks together so well; the mix of percussion, guitar, bass, and vocals is almost perfect for a little while there.
See You (2:26) is a nice little mid-tempo rocker, again remimiscent of Big Me from their first album. After the arena rock style of the last song, this nice simple tune makes a great contrast and the two together probably provide the best example of the diversity of this album. The little lounge-style bit in the middle just caps the whole thing off.
Enough Space (2:37) is another good rock track with stripped-down vocals alternating with manic screaming and hard guitar rock. It's a very short but very hard rocking song that follows up the mid-tempo style of the previous track very well.
The tenth track, February Stars (4:49), is a very mellow low-tempo acoustic song for about the first half, then it slowly builds into a My Hero-style arena rock piece. Lyrically, it does the best job on the album of describing the pain of a breakup, and is unquestionably worthy of being released as a single as well.
The second single from the album, Everlong (4:10), is a good rock piece with somewhat subdued vocals that seem to somewhat bring down the tempo of the song. It's also quite catchy; this is the one song from this album that I can sing along with from beginning to end, which is a strong testament to the catchiness of this particular track.
The fourth single from the album, Walking After You (5:03), is an extremely slow and soft lullaby-style song. It has a very spacy and sleepy effect, probably almost a comedown effect from the hard rock that permeated much of the rest of the album. Dave's voice is as soft as you'll ever hear it, and probably surprising if you're used to the aggressive vocal style of Monkey Wrench or This Is A Call.
The album closes out with New Way Home (5:40), a nice rock piece that ties the sounds of the album together and comes up being strongly reminiscent of Everlong throughout much of the track. It's about getting through it all and finding your way home again, which lyrically ties together the breakup and confusion themes of the rest of the album very well. It drops completely out, then finishes up with a wonderful rock conclusion reminiscent of the earlier Wind Up.
This is a very good melodic hard rock album, well worth your money if you like melodic rock with a wide variety of tempos. If you enjoy this album, you might also like Nirvana's Nevermind and In Utero, as well as this band's fantastic debut, Foo Fighters.