Album Review: Foo Fighters “Medicine at Midnight”

Medicine At Midnight Album Review
Graphics by Kevin Shin

By Megan Doherty, Staff Writer

Artist: Foo Fighters

Album: Medicine At Midnight

Favorites: “Making A Fire,” “Holding Poison,” “Cloudspotter,” “Shame Shame”

For Fans Of: Soundgarden, Chris Cornell, David Bowie, Queens of the Stone Age

Lead singer Dave Grohl promised a record you can groove to for Foo Fighters’ tenth album, Medicine At Midnight. In 36 electrifying minutes, he delivered with the group’s signature crunchy sound steeped in various elements of pop. It’s the band’s most upbeat album, yet still maintains a darker, moody flare. 

While this may sound different from Foo Fighters we’ve adored for the past 25 years, it’s still noticeably a Foo Fighters album, just rejuvenated and expanded. 

 

THE DRUMS TAKE CENTER STAGE

Grohl got his start in the music industry as the drummer for Nirvana. As a result, Medicine At Midnight’s percussion stands out the most to me in a multitude of ways. At times it’s intense and in-your-face; at others, it’s an upbeat groove reserved for Saturday night parties. 

Drummer Taylor Hawkins kicks things off with crisp, hard-hitting drums, demanding your attention even before the distorted guitar wails in. Album opener “Making A Fire” exemplifies the perfect balance between Foo Fighters’ new pop influence and established rock sound. This fusion of genres, especially coming from a band whose music latched on to a similar sound for a quarter-century, deeply fascinates me. The electrifying drums jolt us into their new era with bursts of pure rock and pop.

“Making A Fire” introduces this new style filled with conventional elements, yet percussion-wise remains fairly heavy and captivating throughout with its varying drum pattern. It’s a massive sound foregrounded alongside Grohl’s throaty growl. The drums consistently propel the tune and its bright energy forward at a barreling speed. 

Elsewhere, our listeners have probably noticed we’ve been loving “Shame Shame” and its cool beat that creeps and grooves around. Here, Grohl trades in his energetic, distorted vocals for a slower, more melodic delivery. Regardless, the sharp swift drums and occasional claps get the song moving in a mesmerizing fashion. 

In “Holding Poison,” Foo Fighters practically taunt us with their astonishing ability to create unique, fun, and gripping beats. The song has this clucking percussion, that on top of being utterly hypnotic, is just really cool. It works well in tandem with the contrasting rhythm guitar lines. Then, Hawkins plunges into the second verse by ripping a booming line of descending toms that stuns me every time. 

 

NEW POP ELEMENTS WITH FOO FIGHTERS FUZZ

Though Medicine At Midnight incorporates the most pop influence in Foo Fighters’ discography, this isn’t your typical pop sound. Yes, it’s fun and upbeat, but it also has more soul and body to it. Throughout the album, a trio of women sing backup vocals, breathing a sense of positivity and hope into the tunes. Even when touching on more gloomy lyrical themes like shame and loneliness, they carry the tracks into singalong territory. 

The trio joins in the fun right from the start with a chorus of na-na-nas on “Making A Fire.” They give the song a lot of energy, reminiscent of shiny and infectiously catchy ‘80s rhythm-rock-and-blues. Grohl’s smoothed out vocals add to the polished, melodic feel of the tune. 

With a funky bassline, clacking percussion, and a crooning Grohl, the title track sounds the most inspired by David Bowie out of all the songs on the album. These sonic elements mesh to create a distinct, strangely satisfying, and sensual tune.

 

FROM FESTIVAL ANTHEMS TO PUCK DROPS

A darker groove links Medicine At Midnight together, yet there’s still so much range. The creeping guitar notes plucked throughout “Shame Shame” crawl into a calmer, cryptic realm. In “Making a Fire,” they switched the moodiness for an upbeat gospel-inspired female choir following the main guitar riff. “Cloudspotter” takes us to another world with its funky electric guitar riff alongside Grohl’s raspy vocals attacking the melody. 

On first listen, I could already envision some of the tunes being sung by thousands of people at music festivals. Imagine screaming, “Never really wanted to be number one, just wanted to love everyone” with your friends while Foo Fighters jam out to the title track on stage. Medicine At Midnight was recorded in late 2019, far before anyone considered the possibility of a pandemic decimating live music. It’s easy to think about the band writing these songs with these moments in mind.

“No Son Of Mine” sounds like a perfect fit for sports games to pump up the crowd during breaks. It starts with a menacingly fuzzy guitar riff, Grohl’s raspy screeching voice, a kick drum building, and another wailing guitar. The chorus brings it to a more fun place with backup vocals bringing in a bit of pop. As the song continues, the drums pick up the pace with some toms. It’s wildly catchy and lively, inspiring you to get up to dance or run or fight - it’s very versatile. 

Foo Fighters wrap up their tenth album with “Love Dies Young.” It’s another bop that could be played right before the puck drops at a Bruins game. The chugging guitar feels like an adventure that blossoms into pop rock liberation, despite Grohl repeating the depressing song title. A bright melodic guitar riff closes out the chorus, breathing more pop-fueled spirit into it. 

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