This landmark tenth album for the band is so much fun – roll on the days when we’ll be able to see them perform it live
Locked down like everyone else over the past year, Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters never went away. Grohl started sharing tall tales of his rock and roll life online as @davestruestories and provided some of the most joyful moments of 2020 by challenging Ipswich 10-year-old Nandi Bushell to drum battles on YouTube. Meanwhile, his band’s 2003 single Times Like These made a strong case for being the song of the moment, hitting number one in the UK in May in a new guise as a Band Aid-style charity cover version, then rising to prominence again as a key part of the soundtrack to Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony.
It’s hard to resist the song’s promise of “a new day rising”, and heartwarming to see that, having found fame in a band steeped in misery, Grohl’s post-Nirvana career has been so much fun. The last Foo Fighters world tour, across 2017 and 2018, saw the frontman screaming his head off in front of vast crowds for well over two hours every night.
Last year they would have had every reason to celebrate – this album, Medicine at Midnight, is their landmark tenth and was due to be released in 2020 for the 25th anniversary of the band – but there’s nowhere to party. That must frustrate a man who lives for the stage. However, you wouldn’t know it from the nine song line-up here. The headline he’s been offering in interviews is that this is their “dance record”, which isn’t immediately obvious amid the tornado of guitars, but it is consistently brilliant fun.
As with the previous album Concrete and Gold, Adele producer Greg Kurstin is at the controls, encouraging poppier touches such as the massed female backing vocals that launch the opening track Making a Fire, and a galloping guitar line reminiscent of Queen’s Keep Yourself Alive on Love Dies Young. They also find room for a beat that would qualify as funky on Cloudspotter and recall quieter Beatles moments on the softly drifting ballad Chasing Birds – a rare spell of calm.
No Son of Mine is a Motörhead-inspired monster, a headbanging blast of crashing drums and furious riffing. Waiting on a War sounds like it could be a concert centrepiece, with its journey from acoustic beginnings to a second half that feels like the band have been shot out of a cannon. The only disappointment is that these songs won’t be heard in a stadium any time soon.