By Brandon Carson The Foo Fighters have been a leading force in the mainstream rock scene for 25 years. They constantly play sold-out stadium shows, playing their biggest songs, and show no signs of slowing down. “Times Like These,” “The Pretender,” and “Everlong” are just a few of their countless hits that have dominated the radio. There has never been a terrible Foo Fighters album, although, they’ve come close. One by One and Concrete and Gold never reached the same highs that The Colour and the Shape or Wasting Light have especially with painfully drab songs like “Halo,” and “Sunday Rain.” Lately, the band has been on a streak of bland albums with no reason to come back to them. Unfortunately, Medicine at Midnight follows the same footsteps. Produced again by the acclaimed Greg Kurstin, the record is boring and unmemorable, with very few moments to keep the listener interested. All the while, the same old Foo Fighters tropes keep coming back: featuring slow beginnings leading to fast endings, big, catchy, and repetitive choruses, with basic, tired lyrics.
Foo Fighters by the numbersThe band used to be exciting, and a leading force in post-grunge rock music. Their first album was made entirely by singer/frontman, Dave Grohl, with a raw unproduced sound and gritty riffs. They built upon and expanded this sound with their masterpiece, The Colour and the Shape, and even experimented on their third record, There is Nothing Left to Lose. But right around 2007s Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace, they found a formula. Over time, the band’s sound has grown to be over-saturated and by the numbers, culminating with 2017s average Concrete and Gold. Medicine at Midnight tries to fool the listener (not in a deceiving way, but a swing and a miss) to think that their sound has changed, adding in various dance grooves and a group of background singers. But overall, the record ends up being just the same as the others. “Waiting on a War,” while having an important message of how scared of war he was as a kid in the 80s and the parallels that can be drawn to modern-day, ends up sounding like it could be on Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace or even their documentary Sonic Highways, lacking in the excitement and creativity that was glorified in those records. The second track, “Shame, Shame,” starts strong with a new drum beat and start/stop acoustic guitar, as well as a string section! But over time, it becomes clear that this is just another Foo Fighters song. The chorus sounds as if it’s been heard a million times through their discography with the forced “woahs”and “ohs.” “No Son of Mine” is the rocker that’s supposed to give a sense of familiarity for the Foo Fighters fans that want more rock. But even this song becomes uninteresting and reduced to a standard Foo Fighters song. And what a surprise, those three songs are the main singles.
Stand out moments from a bland recordFortunately, the opener, “Making a Fire,” makes use of the change in sound: a dancey drum beat in ¾ time, a new fuzzy guitar tone, and fantastic background singers hook the listener immediately. Even the chorus on the track works and feels fresh. “Holding Poison,” while sounding like Foo Fighters trying to do Queens of the Stone Age, is another captivating track, especially during the bridge when the background singers belt their hearts out and the band jams like no tomorrow. The title track offers a new side of the band with its slick, revered groove, and haunting keys. The best sounding song on the record, however, is “Chasing Birds.” Even though the lyrics read like every Foo Fighters ballad, the instrumental is surprisingly compelling.
There Is nothing left in the tankAt this point, the Foo Fighters seem to be stuck in a creative rut. There are many fantastic aspects to this record, but it’s bogged down by the same old same old. The dance grooves, background singers, and new textures and tones can only elevate their sound so much. Every chorus and song structure represent what they’ve done before; it’s what they know works. While it’s a respectable quality of a band to get to a point where they can pump records out every couple of years, the Foo Fighters can’t seem to make it work anymore. The creativity feels absent, the flow of the album remains consistent, but there is never a song that blows the listener away. Instead, it feels like the band had ideas to change their sound and make something “new,” but ultimately rehashed the same structures, lyrics, and melodies with the façade of a new sound.
Top tracks:Medicine at Midnight Holding Poison Making a Fire
Recommended if you like:Queens of the Stone Age Wolfmother Velvet Revolver
Sources: Billboard, Genius, Discogs Featured Image: Genius