ALBUM REVIEW: Foo Fighters – Medicine At Midnight
Photo Credit: Danny Clinch
When a band has a longstanding musical heritage and highly regarded legendary status, it can become easy to rely upon their instantly recognisable and iconic sound. Rock icons Foo Fighters have formulated their sound over their illustrious 25 year career; however on their tenth studio album Medicine At Midnight, the six-piece are pushing their sonic boundaries further than ever before and deliver their most experimental effort to date. Whether that be through singles such as the stripped-back jam Shame Shame, the worry-filled rock ballad Waiting On A War, or deep cuts like the cool acoustics of Chasing Birds and the hectic guitar driven Holding Poison, it’s clear Medicine At Midnight is serving up a fresh dose of music for the Foo’s.
Delivering infectious Bowie-esque grooves in abundance, smoothed over by some briefly heavenly choir vocals and hand claps alike, album opener Making A Fire makes for a solid start, as its catchiness clings to your ears long after its enlivening end.
But then slinky and shiny smooth lead single Shame Shame slides its way in, with its slow swaying tempo and rugged modern rock appeal. Starting off with Taylor Hawkins’ detailed drum pattern and Dave Grohl’s subtle vocals in the initial verse, it’s not until the pop friendly, yet epic rock stadium filling, chorus where this funky Foo Fighters track takes full flight, with a delectable selection of rising strings and memorable melodies.
Foo Fighters’ most recent single, Waiting On a War, wades in with its powerful and poignant lyrics. Whilst the world is fighting an invisible war, namely the COVID-19 pandemic, in Waiting On A War Grohl details the deeply personal perspectives that he and his daughter Harper have on two politically charged generational wars. “Every day waiting for the sky to fall/Big crash on a world that’s so small/Just a boy with nowhere left to go/Fell in love with a voice on the radio,” vocalises Grohl in a desperate plea to confront the shared feelings of hopelessness the pair share, whilst also in an attempt to provide reassurance and solace towards his daughter’s current fears for the world. From a lyrical standpoint, this song contains some of the best songwriting from the Foo‘s frontman on the entire record.
Wedged between single three, Waiting On A War, and single two, No Son Of Mine, comes the album’s title-track Medicine At Midnight. Moving into more moody and groovy territory, the track brings some serious atmospheric funk to the proceedings, characterised by its distinctive rhythmic beat, some strong basslines and a rustic guitar riff in the song’s bridge to match. A creative, inventive and quirky number that acts as the perfect upbeat pick-me-up midway through an, at times, mundane record.
Speaking of the sophomore single, No Son Of Mine is up next and sees a return to the heavier rock roots of the Foo’s. Rip roaring into action, the track opens with razor sharp guitars that remain that way right to the end of the song. The single then surges into a chaotic chorus, complete with deep bass and pounding percussion. Lyrically tongue and cheek and musically inspired by the legendary Motörhead, No Son Of Mine and its follow-up Holding Poison are a pair of tunes packed to the brim with full throttle power. Pausing for a second for the chilled out Chasing Birds, the album comes to a close on the guitar chugging look back on youth, Love Dies Young.
Clocking in at a short nine tracks and succinct 36 minute run time, Medicine At Midnight is a momentous marker of how far Foo Fighters have come since their 1995 self-titled debut. Even up until 2017’s Concrete And Gold and those seven studio albums in between, the band’s sound has shifted slightly; however their tenth album, Medicine At Midnight, has skyrocketed to a whole new level of sonic evolution, which is done to varying degrees of success. Although at times it feels padded out with too much missable pop, the full-length is packed with a new found funk and unmistakable rock.
Standout Tracks: Shame Shame, No Son Of Mine, Holding Poison, Love Dies Young
For Fans Of: Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Pearl Jam, Weezer
Written by: Katie Conway-Flood