It’s rare that a band ages entirely like a fine wine and only produces their best material later in their career. I’m not about to state that I think Foo Fighters go against the grain there, but I also can’t say they don’t still offer the goods.
As though it was his birthright, Dave Grohl was making music on a genius level long before his Nirvana days, which means we know we’ll always be in safe hands when Foo Fighters release records. And now they return with their tenth studio album, ‘Medicine At Midnight’, it begs the question: are they still top tier rock legends?
I revisited ‘Sonic Highways’ while exploring their documentary last year — it was on my lockdown viewing list and didn’t disappoint. I’d previously only watched one episode, but the whole collection of experiences they went through showed just how much energy, historical nods and soul they pour into their music. I don’t think this is a valve they can switch off either — it flows through and is evident in their style. After all, the band is formed of incredible talent, with Pat Smear and Taylor Hawkins to name just two who combine with Grohl’s wizardry.
While I don’t hold a candle for 2017’s ‘Concrete and Gold’, the album that followed ‘Sonic Highways’ three years later, I couldn’t really knock it. We all remember ‘Run’ and ‘Arrows’, don’t we? But do they feature on a homemade playlist of their greatest hits? No.
When it comes to ‘Medicine At Midnight’ — a title that sounds like an advert for late-night binge drinking in quarantine — there are moments of fun, experimentation and clarity. Grohl has spoken out about how they had all these tracks lined up, but didn’t wish to set them free until the pandemic had settled — it makes sense, but clearly they realised it wasn’t letting up. New music is a helpful crutch right now, too. So, here we are. Deep in a cocktail of shredding riffs, partly-sung, partly-shouted vocals, soft cymbals, groovy hooks, token tinkling tambourines and much more.
The roll call of instruments involved make this a much sparklier rock record, adrift from their original, heavier sound. But that’s okay — you can’t expect a band to return with just a rehash of what they’ve produced prior. What you want is progression and, whether your favourite Foos songs are on ‘Medicine At Midnight’ or not, that’s what they deliver here.
Not sure where to start, if you just want to try out the bigger bangers? ‘Shame Shame’, ‘No Son Of Mine’, ‘Holding Poison’ and ‘Making A Fire’ are my favourites.