The world has apparently been waiting for something new from the Foo Fighters. With 9.3 million views of „Shame Shame“, the rock band around Dave Grohl set a new record on the Billboard Rock Airplay table. It was the fastest climb to the top of the charts in four years. After two more single releases, the full longplayer is finally out this Friday. There have been a lot of discussions about the album in advance. So how much alternative rock, how much disco is actually in the tenth Foo Fighters album “Medicine at Midnight”? I listened carefully.
By Dylan Cem Akalin
Dave Grohl himself described “Medicine at Midnight” as a disco album influenced by David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”. A few outlines of that Bowie factory can actually be seen in the distance. Apart from the fact that I think “Let’s Dance” is Bowie’s most terrible album, it is above all the title track that explains what Grohl means with echoes of Bowie: Even the vocals at the beginning of the track are reminiscent of Bowie’s haunted baritone. The whole attitude of the piece evokes this slightly synthetic 80s disco spirit with a coolness to the rhythm.
But when you listen to the album a second time, you can definitely hear what Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett, Pat Smear, and Rami Jaffee obviously had in mind. First of all, “Medicine at Midnight” is definitely the album of the Foos with the most positive attitude so far. It’s about fun, about finally living your life without chasing after any fantasies. In times of lockdown, pandemic and fear of illness and death, a little funky dance floor swing like in “Cloudspotter” is really good, and Grohl’s vocal outbursts are more celebratory than intimidatedly aggressive.
One thing first: It’s a real Foo Fighters album, even if you are a little confused and surprised at the start of the opener “Making A Fire”. The guitar and the groove are reminiscent of Lenny Kravitz ‘“ Fly Away ”. The crisp riff then merges into syncopated beats, clapping and gospel-poppy choir chants of „Na-nananana-naaa“. But overall, the Foos stay true to their line of great melodies, hymnic choruses and fat guitars. At the same time, it’s an album , with which they pay homage to many of their heroes of pop and rock history.
“No Son of Mine” is supposed to be a derivative of the Ace of Spades riffs by Motörhead, but the entry riff is clearly more like “Barracuda” by Heart. In general, this song also looks back at space rock. „Love Dies Young“ evokes associations with the glam rock times of Sweet, T-Rex and Slade. With its funky edge, “Cloudspotter” has the feeling of the hair-rock of the 80s, although the band with the meaningless chorus “Sweet, Sweet Guillotine Queen” doesn’t take itself very seriously again. I can imagine the fun they must have had while writing the tracks. The album lives from diversity. And so “Cloudspotter” sounds like Jimi Hendrix is playing a prancing rock beat.
One of the highlights on the album is the acoustic ballad „Waiting on a War“, perhaps the most typical Foo piece on this new release. Accompanied by strings, the song conveys a somewhat stubborn message with a rousing melody. Grohl himself said in an interview that he was inspired to write the song by his 11-year-old daughter, who unexpectedly asked him on the way to school if there would be a war. “Waiting on a War” has this Foo-like hymn that gives collective goose bumps in the arena when the entire audience sings along.
„Shame Shame“ starts with minimalistic bass drum staccato and an idiosyncratic vocal melody, which then ends in a catchy chorus that sounds like a wistful reminiscence of the 70s disco wave, and then there is also a rocky bow in front of Disco-Soul-Queen Evelyn „Champagne“ King: In the song the mood and the quote are woven into the chorus. But it’s the Foo Fighters who do it all with rock attitude and defuse the disco shine with Riot Grrrl sandpaper a la Babes In Toyland.
„Holding Poison“ is full of hard rock enjoyment thanks to the glorious drum work of Taylor Hawkins. The title is like a vintage Foo Fighters song, reminiscent of the second album „The Color and the Shape“. „Chasing the Birds“ is a wonderful ballad with which Grohl proves his skills as a sensitive songwriter. The song, which is about putting our minds in the calm of self-discovery, is written in the spirit of John Lennon. Chris Shiflett fascinates with his alternative sound solo.
Overall: This “medicine at midnight” may win new fans who get to know the new sides of the band, but it will definitely make the existing ones happy.