Rock | Alternative | Post Grunge
The same can probably be said for a lot of people my age, but Foo Fighters were one of the band that I had grown up listening to. The post grunge sound of their earlier efforts defined my late childhood, and so did their 2007 album Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace. I have also had the pleasure of seeing Foo Fighters live not once, but twice (the first being at the Invictus Games closing ceremony in 2014, and the latter being their headline set at Reading Festival in 2019), and to this day, they are my favourite live band. But one dreaded question has been looming in the back of my mind for almost a decade now; isn’t the Foos sound getting a little stale now?
After the release of the band’s 2011 album Wasting Light, which I deemed as the last album to mark the golden age for Foos, the band did indeed go through a bit of a weird phase in my mind. While their following two albums, 2014s Sonic Highways, and 2017s Concrete and Gold had some good conceptualisation behind them, It was, in many cases, the constant re-hashing of the formula they has used over the span of their career, that let these two projects down for the most part. Don’t get me wrong, both were solid albums, but did they stand as pivotal points in the band’s career? I think not.
It felt clear in my mind that the band needed something new, to once again help them make a splash in a musical climate that feels like it has little need to the typical post-grunge banger. And in the lead-up to their newest album, Medicine At Midnight, the band seem to had embraced that truth.
Unfortunately, the first sign of the bands stylistic re-branding came in the form of “Shame Shame”, a track that, while respectively unique, felt incredibly shallow and tedious. It was fair to say that at the point when this track had been released, my worries veered in the opposite direction; have the band unwillingly been cornered into creating a more accessible style? Are the cracks beginning to show? Are Foo Fighters going to end up becoming the new Coldplay? It felt like the band were forced into it, and forced experimentation is never normally good.
Fast forward to January this year, and Foo Fighters released another two tracks, that were put out not too far apart from each-other. And while “No Son Of Mine” and “Waiting On A War” were far more enjoyed by myself that “Shame Shame”, it saw Foo Fighters scurry back slightly to their old stylistic ways. Yep, they felt like Foo Fighters songs alright. If only the band could meet in the middle somewhat, and explore something new, whilst keeping the dynamic charisma and energy that makes their live performances so enjoyable.
Upon the release of Medicine At Midnight, people like me finally got a small taste of that compromise.
With my critical guard let down slightly, it was a pleasant surprise to be hit with the opening track that is “Making A Fire”. This served as the earliest sign, that Foo Fighters have found a way to make their sound as energetic as before, whilst feeling like a unique experience; and that felt mostly down to its mood. By adding little unique elements to the familiar framework of this tune (which in this case were most notably the backing vocals) “Making A Fire” feels like a track the Foo Fighters had a tonne of fun creating, and thus, that sense of fun rubbed off on me as the listener.
What follows is a mixture of tracks that carry more of the Foos sound, and some that stray further away from being so typical. This makes Medicine At Midnight feel like an album that will cater to almost anyone. But I personally, am here for the more unique tracks, and some examples of these are the title track (which frankly feels like what “Shame Shame” should’ve been) and the closing track “Love Dies Young”. What I found amusing about this track in particular, is that it felt almost like a Stereophonic track instrumentally, and melodically. The fact that it is rather a Foo Fighters song feels strange, but in the best respect possible.
If you still feel the need to get your familiar Foos fix, however, your favourite track may likely be the aforementioned “Waiting On A War” and “Holding Poison”, which comes across as a track that may sit comfortably on one of Foo Fighters’ first albums.
In conclusion, I don’t think Foo Fighters have completely reached the stage of fully re-branding themselves, but they have successfully taken the first steps away from the old and beaten path, towards a brighter future.
Favourite Tracks: Making A Fire | Medicine At Midnight | Love Dies Young
Least Favourite Track: Shame Shame
Roswell Records | RCA Records
Enjoyment: 8/10 | Memorability: 7/10 | Atmosphere: 7/10
Uniqueness: 8/10 | Satisfaction: 8/10 | Narrative: 6/10