Medicine at Midnight is the band’s tenth studio record
New Foo Fighters listener Amanie Salama on the Foo Fighters
I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but before this week, I had no idea who Dave Grohl or the Foo Fighters even were.
Despite that, I’ve been a fan of Nirvana for years, and have recently rediscovered my love for rock ‘n roll. I’ve curated a playlist of classics by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pixies, Pink Floyd, Pearl Jam, Oasis, AC/DC, and now… the Foo Fighters.
Although I wasn’t a fan of every song I listened to for this article, I’ll share with you a few of the ones that have made it into my playlist.
The Fulcrum’s Foo Fighter-in-Chief
Well, as opposed to Amanie, I’ve been listening to the Foo Fighters for a long time. I own a number of their CDs, and they are mainstays in the middle of my car’s armrest. My favourite Foo records are their self-titled debut, The Colour and the Shape, Nothing Left to Lose, Wasting Light, and Sonic Highways.
A little disappointed with their previous release, Concrete and Gold (2017), I went into Medicine at Midnight with rather low expectations. But before I did, I decided to review some of the Foos’ classics.
“I’ll Stick Around” – Amanie 4.5/5, Charley 4/5
Amanie: This song, as well as many others on the Foo Fighters title album, are quite reminiscent of Nirvana’s sound: that’s probably why I liked them so much.
There’s a sense of urgency, rage, defiance, and bitterness in Grohl’s voice on “I’ll Stick Around.” You can just tell he’s fed up as he screams “I don’t owe you anything” over and over again in the chorus.
However, the song shifts back and forth between the fast and hard chorus to the slow and soft verses, utilizing the same loud-quiet dynamics often seen in Nirvana’s discography.
Charley: This was for a long time — mainly in high school — my favourite Foo Fighters song.
I’ve always loved the hard-hitting drum intro, as well as the raw heaviness of the distorted power chords. For those who really like the studio recorded version of this song, I definitely recommend checking out the live version that the first iteration of the Foos played at the Brixton Academy in 1995 — it slaps, and is great for intense workouts.
Sadly, in my early twenties, I’ve mellowed a little bit from my angsty teens, and have fallen a little bit out of love with this track — that’s not to say I don’t think it’s great, I just think other Foo songs like “Aurora”, “For All the Cows” and “Hey, Johnny Park!” are better.
“Monkey Wrench” – Amanie 4.5/5, Charley 4/5
Amanie: This one’s super intense! It has a really aggressive and hostile rhythm from the start, as a thrilling, speaker-detonating riff plays out.
Also, the bridge on this track is insane. The first time I heard it, I was utterly shocked. I’d love to see a one breath challenge of “One last thing before I quit” trending on TikTok. That’d be cool.
Charley: I agree with Amanie: I’d love to see a one-breath challenge of “One last thing before I quit” on TikTok.
A little bit like “I’ll Stick Around,” this was a song I really liked in high school. As a wannabe guitarist who loves playing the same three chords, playing this song was chill.
As for its musical value, I mean, it holds up — the bridge is amazing — but again I don’t think that going forward in my twenties this is a song from the Foo Fighters that I will listen to much. It’s very loud, and as Grohl ages, I expect to see it less and less in his live sets.
“Everlong” – Amanie 5/5, Charley 5/5
Amanie: Seeing as this may be the greatest Foo Fighters song of all time, I had to give it a listen, and it’s safe to say that it’s worth the hype.
This song encompasses everything there is to love about the Foos. It’s got an electrifying, hardcore rhythm, accompanied by beautiful lyrics that you can belt out along with Grohl. I particularly liked the build-up to the last “And I wonder.” But honestly, I already knew I was going to like this song as soon as the first chord came through in the intro.
Charley: The Foos’ greatest hit, this is up there with “Live Forever” by Oasis and “Black” by Pearl Jam in the conversation of the best song from the 90s.
“Walking After You” – Amanie 4/5, Charley 3/5
Amanie: This song offered a nice change of pace from the Foos’ usual explosive riffs, forceful drumming patterns, and fiery scream sessions. The gentle acoustic on “Walking After You” is soft, sweet, and melodic. And the lyrics are as sappy as ever. What’s not to love?
Charley: The song that immediately follows “Everlong” on The Colour and the Shape, this track is a welcomed change and one of Grohl’s early attempts at writing a slow love song.
It took some time to grow on me, as it is a clear departure from the rest of The Colour and the Shape but i’m not a fan of this track. Would I say it’s one of my favourite Foo Fighters songs, no, but I think it is a respectable effort.
“Times Like These” – Amanie 5/5, Charley 5/5
Amanie: Going from drummer to frontman couldn’t have been easy, but Grohl definitely grew into the role as time went on. This growth is evident here as the vocals and lyrics on “Times Like These” are noticeably better than those of earlier endeavours.
This song is also oddly optimistic, as Grohl sings “I, I’m a new day rising / I’m a brand new sky / To hang the stars upon tonight.”
If you were to only listen to one of the songs I’ve mentioned, I’d recommend “Times Like These.” It’s the perfect mid-tempo number — a universal anthem with a hopeful message.
Charley: Released in the aftermath of 9/11 and at the start of the war in Afghanistan, this was a tune with a very uplifting message and hopeful outlook.
In 2002, releasing a rock song that wasn’t about a relationship that had fallen to pieces — may that be sung in an emo or butt-rock fashion — was revolutionary. Grohl, at a time where most were either emulating old grunge aesthetics or going emo, released a song with a positive outlook, and it was a massive hit.
I mean, what’s not to like, a catchy riff and a happy message — a perfect recipe for a great song.
“Walk” – Amanie 4/5, Charley 4.3/5
Amanie: The accelerating tempo on this track is what drew me in. It starts off pretty slow, but quickly ramps up and by the end, Grohl is manically screaming “I never wanna die!”
“Walk” is essentially the story of Grohl’s rise from the ashes. It’s nostalgic, profound, and optimistic.
Charley: Damn, hard to believe this track is 10 years old this year. For those who don’t know, the video for “Walk” is amazing, and I encourage everyone to check it out.
When this song came out, I was in grade eight, I remember thinking I was so much cooler and better than everyone else for listening to this song and the Foos — yes, I was that kid. Ten years later, this track is still a jam, and great to listen to when you’re having a bad day.
It makes you feel like you’re the shit — and that’s a great feeling when you’re feeling down.
Medicine at Midnight — Amanie 2.5/5, Charley 1.5/5
Amanie: As I listened to some of the Foos’ newer stuff, though, I started to lose interest. It seems that as the band progressed to the modern age, they’ve adopted a more pop-oriented sound. This is especially evident on their newest album, Medicine At Midnight, which to be frank, I didn’t love.
That’s not to say that there isn’t something to be admired about their courage to explore and try out different sounds after all this time. For that reason, I gave some of the newer songs a listen, and even found a few catchy, like “Waiting on A War” and “No Son of Mine.” I just prefer their older music.
Overall, the Foo Fighters started off employing many of the same methods and dynamics as Nirvana. However, their sound has evolved as distinctively their own over time. They’ve been able to maintain tremendous longevity, and have established themselves as a force to be reckoned in the world of rock.
Charley: Honestly, Medicine At Midnight is nothing special: it’s a meh record. It feels like the Foos put out this record simply to put out a record. It’s not bad, but it’s not good. Concrete and Gold had its highs and lows, “Dirty Water” and “The Sky is A Neighbourhood” were good, but this record just doesn’t have any very strong moments.
It feels tired. The message isn’t there, and that’s bad for a band like the Foo Fighters. Their best songs, think “Everlong”, “Times Like These”,”Best of You” and “These Days” are good because they are built on emotions first and foremost — this is not the case here.
A couple weeks ago, I praised Weezer for putting out a record in which Rivers Cuomo released songs about feeling vulnerable. There is no sense that Grohl is emotionally invested in any of these songs.
This doesn’t feel like a pandemic record, it feels like a butt-rock Nickelback sort of record, and I’m not a fan. It is very vanilla. And it breaks my heart as a long time Foo Fighters fan.
It feels like the magic is lost — it’s boring.