In their first album since 2017, the Foo Fighters highlight their signature alternative rock sound while trying on a new, sometimes darker tone in “Medicine At Midnight.” Recorded in a supposedly haunted house, the group finished recording nine new songs last February for its 10th studio album.
Now, 26 years after their self-titled debut, singer Dave Grohl leads the group in an attempt at modernizing their sound. The band’s ‘90s roots are still present, but they stand within the present rock arena with their heavy guitar and resonant drums.
The album, released Feb. 5, shies away from the adage out with the old and in with the new, instead bridging the divide between their signature alternative sound with more modern rock. It’s a change from their 2017 album “Concrete and Gold,” which embraced a notably softer sound than “Medicine At Midnight.” The acoustic beginnings to some of those songs gave way to support the bold and fiery sound persisting through “Medicine At Midnight.”
The album opens with “Making A Fire,” which has a choral introduction that stands in stark contrast to Grohl’s vocals. It draws in listeners with its message of taking the wheel and being the catalyst for action in one’s own life.
“I’ve waited a lifetime to live / It’s time to ignite, I’m making a fire,” Grohl sings.
The album’s lead single, “Shame Shame,” takes a different turn, detailing one’s consciousness of their unbearable influence over their audience. This darkness is reflected in the music video starring Sofia Boutella, a black and white demonstration of this isolation and hopelessness.
“I’ll make you feel something real just to bother you,” Grohl adds. “Now I got you / Under my thumb like a drug, I will smother you.”
The album’s fourth track offers a pensive reflection on the conflict that pervades society. “Waiting On A War” begins reminiscing on one’s childhood growing up viewing war as an inevitability— a when, not if. The song clings to a desire for youthful hope while simultaneously brushing aside the concept of youthful ignorance of war.
Crescendoing into a fierce ending, Grohl begs the question, “Is there more to this / More to this, more to this than / Just waiting on a war?”
“Medicine At Midnight” comes to a close with two gripping songs about death. “Chasing Birds” is more subdued than the rest of the album, filled with guilt and mentions of faults that chart the course to hell, set alongside the intended goodwill of the person making that trek.
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions / Dark inventions of mine / The road to hell is paved with broken parts / Bleeding hearts like mine.”
The other, “Love Dies Young,” is a reflection on death and lost love that sits within the second stage of grief — anger. The speaker is frozen here well after the fact, jaded and unable to conceive the existence of love after once taken away so permanently.
“Love dies young and there’s no resuscitation / Once it’s done, no regeneration / It’s a bitter kiss that’ll make you wish / You never had a taste.”
This cements a dismal finale for the album, bookending it between an anthem full of hope and action and one of pessimism and despair. While the album may stray from the sounds of past Foo Fighters projects, it provides listeners an opportunity to bask in nostalgia. The group successfully melds these two eras, exhibiting their lasting relevance within the genre.
“Medicine At Midnight” is available on iTunes, Spotify and other streaming platforms.