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Summer music preview: The albums

We take a look at the summer’s hottest upcoming records from Foo Fighters, Prodigy, and more

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FOO FIGHTERS

Should you take anything Foo Fighter lead vocalist and guitarist Dave Grohl says seriously? One second, he’s explaining how the lyrics from The Colour and the Shape, his band’s new album, ”look exactly like my therapist’s notepad,” loaded as they are with his tales of ”guilt, the pain of ending relationships, and all this personal stuff.” The next, he’s rolling his eyes, saying his recent divorce from photographer Jenny Youngblood ”is nobody’s f—ing business.”

With Grohl, you get the earnest rock star (”I cried like a kid getting my hair cut off,” he says of his decision to trade his Fabio-length locks for a Toulouse-Lautrec-like mane and goatee). But you also get the high schooler within (”We had a drummer crisis,” he says, referring to the surprise departure in March of percussionist William Goldsmith, ”so we called 1-800-DRUMMER”). Heh, heh.

Still, it’s hard not to like the 28-year-old Grohl, who once did a bit of drumming himself for a band called Nirvana. Inside an office at Capitol Records in L.A., Grohl and Foo mates Nate Mendel, the band’s bassist, and Taylor Hawkins, the new drummer, behave like the happiest punks in all the land — breaking into song, regaling one another with grungy gossip (”You gotta hear the new Supergrass album, dudes!” Grohl says), and whooping things up with Spinal Tap-esque faux British accents (”I wanna buy me mum a new Cadillac, mates!” exhorts Hawkins).

There’s good reason for merriment: The new album marks the first time the band (which also includes guitarist Pat Smear) has recorded together. Grohl sang and played virtually every note on 1995’s runaway hit Foo Fighters, a solo project that spawned the group. And thanks to that record’s success, the Foos finally seem to have crept out from under the shadow of Kurt Cobain. ”It’s funny — by the time we got to the MTV Music Awards last year, we had become international pop sensations, which is what was supposed to happen,” cracks Grohl.

The Colour and the Shape is intended to show, as Grohl puts it, ”a more mature side of the band,” and, indeed, the songs are less bubblegummy and more complex. ”It’s not like we recorded this on a bloody 8-track,” Grohl says, all Britishy. ”We wanted to make a bloody good rock album.”

Which probably explains the royal treatment, alt-rock-style. The album is being released on double vinyl LPs. There’s a nasty video for the first single, ”Monkey Wrench,” in which Grohl spits into the camera. And there’s an intergalactic tour planned.

”Wow!” Grohl gushes. ”Drummer problems, double albums, world tours. We made it, man!”

DISC INFERNO

Will they burn up the charts or run out of steam? It’s Generation Next versus Generation Ex in the battle of the record bins.

PAUL McCARTNEY Flaming Pie With no world stadium tour to flog, McCartney has come up with a considerably more reflective affair than fans have heard in a while. Ringo, Jeff Lynne, and Steve Miller guest. (May 20)

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