There are artists who survive through perpetual reinvention, constantly surprising their audience at all times, and then there are artists who trade in reliability. Twenty-six years into their career, Foo Fighters largely fall into the latter category.
Every two or three years a new album comes out, promoted by a tour of the most important places in the world, and magazine covers in which Dave Grohl puts the face that he puts on the covers of the magazines: frown, bared teeth. It’s not a comparison you hear very often, but there is a sense in which they are the American version of Oasis – a supposedly alternative band dealing with a punk version of rock classicism and loved by people who presumably want to know exactly what they do. . they are receiving before disbursing, or at least transmitting, a new album.
A certain dependability might be the point, Dave Grohl presumably had enough surprises to last him a lifetime while a member of Nirvana, although it seems that an itch has manifested itself in recent years. “The complacency and the sense of stagnation push the bands to the ground,” he told The Guardian seven years ago. “It is a priority that we continue to enjoy and love it.” So there have been albums recorded in a garage (Wasting Light) or in different cities in the United States with local guest musicians (Sonic roads). Concrete and Gold (2017) paired the band with pop kingpin Greg Kurstin, which, at the very least, meant that the Adele’s Hello co-author produced a song about Dave Grohl’s teenage love for controversial industrial experiments. White House and Death in June.
Grohl had changed the methods by which Foo Fighters recorded albums without changing much to the music they contained: whether it was recorded in a garage, with the guy who produced Sia’s Chandelier, or even with New Orleans. Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the results always sounded almost exactly like Foo Fighters. So you might consider pre-release publicity for Medicine at Midnight, another Greg Kurstin co-production, which Grohl has described as a “disco” album. influenced by David Bowie’s Let’s Dance – with a jaundiced eye. To be fair, there are a handful of moments where you can almost hear the outline of this plan, most obviously on the single Shame Shame, with its looped drums and pizzicato strings. Elsewhere, the title track and Chasing Birds definitely have a Bowie touch to the vocals, there’s a bit of dance floor swing over the beat of Cloudspotter, and there are spots in Holding Poison where the drums glide into an approximation. approximate to Earl Young’s patent. Open hi-hat disco beat, at least until the track slides into a pleasantly rocky vibe bar boogie.
But these are soft nods to an idea, scattered sparingly around an album that otherwise sounds exactly like Foo Fighters. His musical limits are marked at one end by No Son of Mine, a reorganization of Motörhead’s Ace of Spades riff apparently intended to be a tribute to Lemmy, and at the other by the pop-rock anthems of Waiting on a War, a song. clearly intended to wake up audiences the size of a sports field to sing and then punch the air as he accelerates toward his coda. Guitars blare as other songs make their way into grand choruses in which Grohl’s vocal roar sounds celebration rather than anguish. Before Covid spoiled live music in 2020, Foo Fighters were supposed to be celebrating the 25th anniversary of their self-titled debut album in the style of “world domination.” You can’t do that if your new album is a sudden turn to the left that baffles your fanbase – a train of thought that seems to inform Medicine at Midnight, overriding any desire to experiment.
That thought seems to inform the Foo Fighters of the last days more broadly. They are a band clearly in their element on stage, bringing in special guests and sliding covers of everything from Prince’s Darling Nikki to Dead Kennedys’ Holiday in Cambodia on their sets. All albums are expertly made, but making them seems to have become secondary to touring; The band have cleverly instituted enough changes to the album-making process to keep them from feeling like they’re just making the moves, but their content is there to fill in the gaps between the greatest hits on stage without suggesting a drastic drop in quality. By those criteria alone, Medicine at Midnight, like its immediate predecessors, a solid but unspectacular album, is a hit.
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Lost in the pre-Christmas chaos, the Jamaican vocalist and Manchester house producer team up to make a glorious Good Life-style hymn.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism