Release Date: Feb 5, 2021
Record label: RCA
Right before its release in early 2021, Dave Grohl called Medicine at Midnight the Foo Fighters' "Saturday Night party album" -- a self-evaluation that turns out to be pretty accurate. It also functions as an acknowledgment of an open secret within the band's catalog: for all their attributes, the Foos have rarely been "fun. " Foo Fighters fix that deficit by diving head on into disco and dance, the syncopations and polyrhythms so dominating Medicine at Midnight that the four-on-the-floor rock & roll ravers almost seem diminished in comparison.
Pairing up with Adele and Sia songwriting sidekick Greg Kurstin for a second time following 2018's 'Concrete and Gold', Foo Fighters unhatch a new groove on LP10 that expands their sound into - gulp - funk and dance territory. A move which on paper spells trouble, but in practice pays off. While its predecessor was indebted to Motorhead and pulled in classic hard rock influences, 'Medicine At Midnight' takes its cues from 'Let’s Dance'-era Bowie.
The main thing that comes to mind when one thinks of American rock band Foo Fighters is stability. You know who their name, you know their history, you know some of their hits, you know their instantly-recognisable blend of honey and grit. And that's because they have been an omnipresent force in the music business, having been around now for just shy of 25 years.
Think back on the past decade of Foo Fighters' career -- what stands out? Maybe it's that time frontman Dave Grohl broke his leg and performed while sitting on a giant throne. Perhaps it's his viral drum-off challenge with a 10-year-old kid. Or it might be the band's seemingly endless parade of festival headlining slots and SNL appearances. Most recently, it was likely their performance at Joe Biden's presidential inauguration. What probably doesn't stand out, however, is that the band have continued to release albums at a steady clip.
Foos are back! (kinda) Way back in 2011, just before the turning of Wasting Light, I thought Foo Fighters were well and truly spent. At that point Foo Fighters was their only really great album, with Foos' follow-up, The Colour and the Shape, riding on the coattails of the eponymous debut as a decent alternative. Yet, even with my praises for both of those records, they aren't entirely cohesive in the "album experience" sense.
At this point, fans are either leaning into Foo Fighters' sonic turns in recent years or remain content with spinning The Colour and the Shape indefinitely. While the Foos always tipped a proverbial cap to various genres while standing atop their grunge-turned-modern rock foundations, Dave Grohl and company have embraced long-held influences tighter than ever in recent years, allowing prog and pop flavors to dominate multiple songs. The result is a more vibrant sonic bouquet—or a polarizing direction.
The aim to stay fresh and exciting when you have been together for twenty-five years is not one alternative rock legends Foo Fighters need to worry about. The tenth studio album from Dave Grohl and his cohorts marks a glorious depiction of the band's successful career in music. While each track inserts its own stroke of rock and roll lightning, they also work as a combined unit.
The Lowdown: During the Foo Fighters livestream show at the Roxy in November, Dave Grohl spent a little time wondering what could've been. "2020 was gonna be the best year ever!" he said to the audience-free club. "We had plans, man!" That show, while good, wasn't the ending to a triumphant 25th anniversary year that Grohl had in mind. COVID-19 upended most of the celebrations, including tours of Europe and America (one of which retraced the itinerary of the band's first tour from 1995), the Foo-curated D.C.