Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of the legendary rock band Nirvana, Foo Fighters were founded in 1994 by drummer Dave Grohl. Grohl rocked on the drums with Nirvana, but with Foo Fighters, he brings a beautiful rock’n’roll growl, geniusly written lyrics, and killer guitar to the world of rock. In their nearly 30 years of music, Foo Fighters have won 12 Grammys, including “Best Rock Album” not once, but four times. In 2014, Dave Grohl was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Every single one of their impressive ten albums brings a familiar sense of awe to the listener. Dave Grohl is one of the most talented artists in rock right now and Foo Fighters’ latest album, Medicine at Midnight (2021) is a testament to that statement.
The album opens with “Making a Fire,” a fun, upbeat track with some energetic drums and gorgeous gospel-y backing vocals from Grohl’s fourteen-year-old daughter, Violet. It’s nearly impossible to sit still during this song. The next track, “Shame Shame,” which debuted in November 2020, is actually the first song the band chose to share off the album. In an interview with NME, Grohl explained, “I thought this should be the first track people hear, so they realize this album isn’t like Foo Fighters records that have gone before.” The guitar almost sings along to the haunting vocals in this gloriously different song unlike anything I’ve heard before. During my first listen, it only took hearing these first two songs for me to order the album on vinyl.
You know that cool trick when you’re listening to a song with earbuds and it sounds like the music is only coming through the left earbud and then another layer of music comes through the right one? The intro for “Cloudspotter” uses that technique and I have been listening to it on repeat just to hear that fun intro over and over again. With a bit of a Pearl Jam feel, this song uses incomparable vocals from Grohl, a catchy chorus, and superb guitar. This fun, dancey track is juxtaposed by the deeply emotional, hauntingly relatable lyrics and soft guitar of the subsequent track, “Waiting on a War.” When I first heard this song, I was struck by the almost Lennon-like emotion in Grohl’s voice and the very clear sense of uncertainty about the world that he conveys through the lyrics. It’s just a beautiful song!
The next song, title track “Medicine at Midnight,” comes in hot with a very 80s Bowie-inspired sound. Like a lot of the other songs on this album, it’s a very danceable tune. Following this one is “No Son of Mine,” which is so purely rock, I genuinely thought it was a Metallica song the first time I heard it. There’s heavy drums, a classic riff, and of course Dave Grohl’s signature scream. It even samples Queen’s “Stone Cold Crazy” and Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades”! This one is definitely my favorite on the album because of how unmistakably rock and roll it sounds. Similarly, “Holding Poison” gives us an incredible riff right off the bat and holds that amazing guitar sound throughout the track.
Grohl slows it down a bit with “Chasing Birds,” a very thoughtful song that kind of makes you want to curl up under a blanket and stare at the ceiling. “Chasing Birds” is slow, but the album really goes out with a bang with “Love Dies Young.” This is one of those songs with a chorus that should be blasted through the speakers in the car with the windows down. Love may die young, but my love for this album will never die!
One thing is for sure. Medicine at Midnight is unlike anything Foo Fighters have done before and it absolutely works. While it’s clear to see where they took some inspiration from other artists, every song is so uniquely Foo Fighters and so incredibly fun to listen to. It will certainly be interesting to see whether they continue to experiment with genres like this in the future! This is truly a one-of-a-kind album with not a single song I want to skip! The only reasonable thing to do after listening to this album is to hit repeat and listen all over again!