This article was originally published in The Sting on February 12, 2021.
It feels like most albums I’ve reviewed over the last year were recorded before the pandemic, and were subsequently shelved temporarily. Foo Fighters latest is no exception.
To coincide with their 25th anniversary, Foo Fighters had planned to release their 10th studio album, Medicine at Midnight last year. With the cancellation of their tour, postponing the release seemed like a pretty viable option.
But I suppose Dave Grohl and company couldn’t wait for touring to resume to have the world hear their latest effort. And to be completely honest, I can’t blame them. From the opening drum groove to the loud and catchy choruses, this new Foos record is highly experimental, and arguably one of their best.
It’s jazzy. It’s bluesy. It reminds me of David Bowie and Queens of the Stone Age at the same time. It has songs that you can dance to, and it has songs that thousands of people can sing along with in unison.
That opening drum groove I mentioned? On “Making a Fire,” tt gives way to one of the catchiest guitar licks I’ve heard in some time, along with vocal melodies from the background singers that can often be seen accompanying the band on tour. To this point, I can’t recall hearing them on one of the Foo Fighters albums. The verse gives way to a boisterous chorus that I think will be stuck in my head for some time.
“Shame Shame,” the second track is quite mellow, the polar opposite of most Foo Fighters tracks, including the album opener. It’s a solid groove too. “Cloudspotter” starts mellow, but rips open with the chorus. It prompts me to think of Joe Cocker or the Rolling Stones track “Gimme Shelter.”
“No Son of Mine” and “Holding Poison” get back to that classic Foo Fighters sound we’ve enjoyed for 25 years, but they still sound like fresh songs. “Chasing Birds,” like “Shame Shame,” is pretty laid back, but the wide range of sound keeps the listener guessing as to what will come next, and in my opinion, that’s not a bad thing at all.
The album ends with the thunderous “Love Dies Young,” a track that takes the new sounds the band has been experimenting with and puts them right alongside their definitive sound. Needless to say, the album ends on a high note.
Despite now having six members in the band, this album doesn’t sound too crowded, which can happen when there’s too many people collaborating on one project. More than anything, I think I’m happiest with Nate Mendel’s bass playing on this record. He really took some risks with his playing on this effort, and I’m thrilled with how it turned out.
I always worry a bit when a band I’ve loved for years puts out a new album, but with this one, Foo Fighters hit the nail on the head. I look forward to seeing them get back out on the road, hopefully later this year.
Tony Sheaffer is editor-in-chief for The Sting and writes Friday Groove, a weekly music column.