Foo Fighters tread water with ‘Medicine at Midnight’
Willoughby Thom | Thursday, February 11, 2021
There are very few bands who have earned a reputation like the one afforded to the Foo Fighters. They are not only the friendliest rock band that has graced the Earth — this is from personal experience — but they are also incredible musicians. It may seem unnecessary for a band that is associated with Nirvana, which won 11 Grammy Awards and released 10 studio albums, to feel the need to develop a new sound. But it’s Dave Grohl, and he can do whatever he wants.
The Foo Fighters released their 10th studio album “Medicine at Midnight” on Friday, and, unfortunately, it proved to be nothing special. The album often unsuccessfully feels like it’s trying to be an extension of their previous album “Concrete and Gold.” “Concrete and Gold” was the album that marked the change in the Foo Fighters’ sound; it packed a punch but was evidence the band wanted to start making more complex music. “Medicine at Midnight” doesn’t highlight this complexity; instead, it brings forth a devolution.
Prior to the album’s premiere date, the band released three singles, “Shame Shame,” “No Son of Mine” and “Waiting on a War,” and their simplicity leaves me wanting something more. It’s apparent that “Shame Shame” and “Waiting on a War” are politically driven songs describing the band’s embarrassment at the country’s politics and warmongering, both evergreen concerns. “Shame Shame” in particular is a very catchy tune undercut by repetitive lyrics and notable lack of a musical climax like the ones found in classics “The Pretender,” “Monkey Wrench” and “Run.”
“No Son of Mine,” and “Cloudspotter” are the best two songs off the album; both are lyrically simple but present the traditional Foo Fighter sound fans love. “No Son of Mine” resembles a punk version of Devo’s track “Jocko Homo.” Sadly, there is no concrete evidence of Grohl being inspired by this track, but the intro rhythms and the way in which the lyrics are sung are very similar. Did they pull inspiration from Devo because of their opinions on society? Themes of devolution?
“Medicine at Midnight” feels like a radio version of “Concrete and Gold;” in other words, it’s the Foos’ dance record. Foo Fighter fans (myself included) may be shocked by such a change in sound, but there’s a precedent for success with this kind of musical shift. Plenty of legendary bands released a dance record and still continued to produce great music — think of U2 with “Pop” or David Bowie with “Let’s Dance.”
What makes this album so underwhelming isn’t the fact that it’s a so-called “dance record” but that it doesn’t show any evidence of a musical evolution. There’s a difference between evolving and conforming, and I think The Foo Fighters forgot this distinction in the making of this record.
“Medicine at Midnight”
Band: Foo Fighters
Notable Tracks: “Cloudspotter,” “No Son of Mine,” “Holding Poison”
If you like: Queens of the Stone Age, The Killers, Green Day
Shamrocks: 3 out of 5