BY ALMA CARVEL
Released in early February, Medicine at Midnight is the Foo Fighters’ 10th studio album since they were formed in 1994. After nearly 30 hard-hitting years in the alternative rock game, the band continues to be the bridge that connects the worlds of pop and grunge rock together.
Finished before the pandemic hit the world, the album is the positive, high-octane, hard rock pick-me-up that we didn’t know we needed in 2021. The band is as tight, catchy, and in-your-face as ever in this new album. However, we’d be lying if we didn’t say that we expected more.
Don’t get us wrong. Medicine at Midnight is filled with songs that are bound for arena singalongs and epic rock showdowns. The album opens with the song Making a Fire. It starts with Taylor Hawkins’ familiar energetic drums, followed by Dave Grohl tearing it up on guitar as usual, along with an unfamiliar voice singing the refrain. That voice is actually Violet, Grohl’s teenage daughter who recorded her own vocal work for the album. It’s easy to see why there’s so much heart in this album, even from just the opening track.
Meanwhile, Shame Shame with its acoustic guitars and melancholy feel is definitely the odd one out. It’s certainly a departure from the band’s typical raging tunes, making great use of Grohl’s impassioned vocal work. This is also true for Chasing Birds, the album’s unapologetic ballad. In Cloudspotter, however, it’s back to business as usual. Definitely one of the album’s more dance music-inclined tracks, Cloudspotter is based on a 25-year old electric guitar riff. “Some of those songs, the best ones happen in 45 minutes,” explained the vocalist. “Then there’s other songs — there’s a riff on the new record I’ve been working on for 25 years. The first time I demoed it was in my basement in Seattle.”
Things take a mad turn in Waiting On A War, an acoustic guitar-driven modern folk rock song that serves as the album’s political track. And with the title track, Medicine at Midnight, the script gets flipped again as the band’s iconic sound takes on a disco-like quality. Coming towards the end of the album, No Son Of Mine reminds listeners that Grohl has loved using his distortion pedal effects for over 20 years, and his classic rock songwriting is as strong as ever. The same can be said for Holding Poison, which is arguably the album’s standout song. And last but definitely not the least, the heavy but uplifting Love Dies Young encapsulates the band’s 25-year evolution – practically a reflection of alternative rock’s own evolution in the past two decades of music.
Highly optimistic and tightly produced would be the best words to describe Medicine at Midnight. It would seem that the ‘90’s-era seminal grunge outfit has finally, fully, and without hesitation embraced pop rock. And what came out of the recording studio is a solid effort from these veterans of the scene. That being said, the album doesn’t really offer anything new in terms of themes and musicality.
The Foo Fighters are still at the top of their game. But truth be told, despite being a solid and nearly technically flawless effort, Medicine at Midnight might disappoint even some of their most loyal fans. This album simply brings nothing new to the table. Even standout tracks like No Son of Mine, Holding Poison, or Love Dies Young sound interchangeable with any of the other power pop, hard rock tracks from their earlier albums. While it’s definitely an above average rock album, as one of the lines from Waiting On A War exclaims, “There’s got to be more to this than that. ‘Cause I need more.”