In a world where rock is seemingly making a comeback, the continued output of the Foo Fighters is a huge boost to the argument that it never left. From their beginnings with the self-titled debut Dave Grohl put together himself and the full band debut with The Colour And The Shape up to the 2020s, the Foos have been holding down the fort for rock and consistently delivering new product, not to mention evolving their distinct and easily identifiable sound. Following up from 2017’s Concrete And Gold, their latest is the nine-track Medicine At Midnight, a record that’s more feel-good than grunge, though that shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a minus.
“Making A Fire” has plenty of classic alt-rock flare, though the female backup vocals throw the tentatively grungy vibe for a happier loop and take it to church. Nevertheless, it still sounds like the Foos as Grohl comes roaring through on the chorus. “Shame Shame” treads a bit closer to the indie/anthemic stylings of Imagine Dragons among others; Taylor Hawkins’ infectious groove sets the stage for the overly danceable “Cloudspotter” which with the exception of the chorus comes off like a gritty rendition of the Talking Heads (Think “Crosseyed And Painless”). “Waiting On A War” is quintessential Foo, a stringy, acoustic number sonically comparable to “Times Like These” or “Learn To Fly” in unplugged form. The title track dives deeper into the new wave vibe of “Cloudspotter”, twisting up bits of Remain In Light, indie dance-rock and INXS into a hypnotic active rock stew with a tasty solo to boot.
“No Son Of Mine” starts on a pulsing, chugging note, bursting open into an up-tempo rocker with some piercing guitar work and a light background chorus to really complete and compliment the track. “Holding Poison” ups the rock further while keeping some of the dance-y components from previous tracks, utilizing them in just the right places and making the track all the more logical, catchy and cohesive. From there it flows into the mellow “Chasing Birds”, a track equal parts chilled-out Clapton and Alan Parsons a la “Eye In The Sky”. The lax melodies provide a nice reprieve from usual Foo fare, but the record has to close energetically, which we get with “Love Dies Young”. Starting out with a similar gallop to “No Son Of Mine”, “Young” turns into one last danceable groover with a rocking chorus, a prototype the Foos have undeniably nailed down in their own way. It kicks up fittingly at the end and stops sharply, and while a ringing fade might have worked a bit better, there’s nothing much to complain about there or anywhere else in the track.
Medicine At Midnight is a great testament to why the Foo Fighters are continually relevant and necessary in rock music and music period in 2021. Sure, there is a rock resurgence on the way driven partially by numerous pop stars trying their hand in pop punk and the like, but had there been no capital R rock band out there that was holding the torch and marching forward, what we see unfolding in front of us in the mainstream may not have been possible, or at least far less strong and potent. Furthermore, if the Foos had stuck to their In Your Honour blueprint and gone no further, there would have been little to no incentive to care about them or consider them as an influential factor in rock and its future. Thankfully since they kept at it and didn’t stagnate, they’re still around to keep things fresh and fun as evidenced by this latest record. How this musical renaissance unfolds will be mighty interesting to watch and it’s too early to tell the exact direction it will take, but one way or another the Foo Fighters will be right there in the middle of it, seizing the moment.