Published Feb 01, 2021Think 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. Sure, the LPs almost always top the charts and sell hundreds of thousands of copies, but the singles barely register on radio. The albums tend to be more memorable for their gimmicks — 2011's Wasting Light was recorded in a garage with analogue gear, 2014's Sonic Highways was recorded in eight different cities, etc. — than the actual music. Really, it's all just a way to keep the band on the road, and for Grohl to maintain his status as the most loveable everyman in rock music.
And so here we are Medicine at Midnight — the band's fourth album within the past 10 years, and yet another collection of old-school rock music that's satisfying without being adventurous. The Foos aren't trying to reinvent rock, but they're doing a pretty good job at carrying on the tradition.
Medicine at Midnight was recorded with returning super-producer Greg Kurstin (Adele, Beck), and they've toned things down a little from the stadium-sized mega-rock of 2017's Concrete and Gold. Instead of pomp and grandeur, these nine songs are all about fun. Opener "Making a Fire" froths with faux-Motown soul harmonies and a fidgety 6/8 rhythm that sounds like it's tripping over itself out of sheer enthusiasm; the party carries on all the way to closer "Loves Dies Young," which blends the chug-a-lug of classic rock with a thumping new wave dance beat.
"Cloudspotter" and title cut "Medicine at Midnight" push the Foo Fighters ever so slightly out of their retro comfort zone with a clickity-clacking percussion loops and deep, crooning vocal performances from Grohl. But for the most part, Medicine at Midnight isn't good because of the ways it pushes the envelope, but because of how upholds the band's status as rock torchbearers. This is the Foos doing what they do best. (RCA)