Foo Fighters Find a New Groove With Medicine at Midnight
It’s incredibly cliched to refer to an album of music as being composed of “infectious grooves,” but there’s really no other concise way to describe the Foo Fighters’ newest release, Medicine at Midnight. Many bands with legacies as deep as the Foo Fighters’ have engaged in a dalliance with dance grooves recently. MUSE actually started doing so almost a decade ago with their album The 2nd Law. Pearl Jam got a little more groovy about a year ago with their slinky bass driven single “Dance of The Clairvoyants.” Red Hot Chili Peppers have always been funky, but moved into dance territory with “Go Robot” off of The Getaway back in 2016. While neither Foo Fighters, MUSE, Pearl Jam, nor RHCP have abandoned guitar driven rock, they have expanded their sounds. What Foo Fighters do on Medicine at Midnight though, to a greater extent than their peers have, is incorporate dance music beats into their rock guitar anthems to come up with songs that actually sound fresh.
Medicine at Midnight is an album of creative energy that once again showcases the band mining a new musical vein in order to rejuvenate their sound. Their brand of catchy Foo Fighters’ energy erupts and never looks back from the album’s opening beat. The power chords and soulful backing chorus of “Make a Fire” inspires you to headbang AND dance though. “Make a Fire” clearly warns you that you are about to get groove rocked, Dave Grohl style. “Shame, Shame,” the album’s lead single, is next. Its funky beat is somehow unequivocally recognizable as the Foo Fighters’, even though it’s unlike nearly any song they’ve written to this point. “Cloudspotter,” a standout track, will awaken the rhythm in you before the drums even kick in, and leave you completely rocked by the end of its short 4 minute run. It’s evident from the album’s opening tracks that bass and groove are more front and center than they ever have been on a Foo Fighters’ record.
Short is another concise way to describe Medicine at Midnight. Clocking in at 37 minutes, it’s the shortest full length album in the Foo Fighters’ discography. It’s over before you expect it to be. We can always use more of Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters’ music in our lives, but here the desire for the music to go on aches more than it did at the end of the last few albums. “Waiting on a War,” a powerful old school Foo Fighters’ track, is one of their most poignant and beautifully composed songs lyrically and musically. It recalls “Times Like These,” but has a more urgent feel. While it might sound like “Times Like These,” it feels more like “Walk.” It’s the perfect blend of what makes the Foo Fighters’ music so great and timeless. The song also marks the seriousness and artistic depth that Grohl is deftly keen on sneaking onto each Foo Fighters’ album in between the lighter rock fare. While it doesn’t really sound as much like the more dance rock songs on the album, it fits alongside them nonetheless just as ably as the album itself fits alongside the rest of the band’s catalogue.
The album’s title track “Medicine at Midnight” recalls Bowie at his most dance rockable. “No Son of Mine” will most likely be the hard rocking show opener on the eventual Medicine at Midnight supporting tour that we all are praying will eventually be able to happen, along with hundreds of other tours. “Holding Poison” is the album’s weakest track, but only because it’s a trip, although a raucous one, down the Foo Fighters’ memory lane of similar sounding rock songs. “Chasing Birds” and “Love Dies Young” are the atypical “moderate rock” tracks that leader Grohl’s former band would have derided 30 years ago, but probably would have ended up writing himself if he stuck around. They will make great mid set crowd pleasers when that aforementioned tour happens.
We aren’t able to enjoy Foo Fighters live right now and for good reason. This will make Medicine at Midnight a little bittersweet to Foo Fighter Fans. The album is a testament to their musicianship, and what the band is capable of delivering in a live setting. Every chord, beat, and note feels like it’s being played in front of you, even when it’s piping through your headphones. While listening to the album, it’s easy to imagine the medicinal power these songs will have in a live setting. It’s definitely something to look forward to, and tie us over until we can rock, and dance, together again.