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Foo Fighters - Medicine At Midnight

Being one of the biggest rock bands in the world could be regarded as an enviable position to be in. You can afford big houses in the Hollywood Hills, access to any club you want, put your children through a private education, and so on. Of course you can also live off your back catalogue, playing what is no more than greatest hits live shows and sit comfortably by your swimming pool during the time in between. You deserve that position because you’ve worked hard to get there, so why not take the rest of your life off and reap the rewards?

Or you can be Dave Grohl and bring out another album that says, “We’re still relevant!”

Medicine At Midnight isn’t epic in the sense of length, only nine tracks in its entirety, but it is epic in its sound. Grohl referred to it during the many interviews prior to its release as a dance album and, though not in the realms of Nile Rogers, the drumming and guitars are distinctly edging toward funkier tones.

But what Grohl didn’t highlight was the way that the band has introduced a more choral vocal element into the music. Take the opening track Making A Fire, which is one hell of a statement. Straight up front, we get this wonderfully tune-fueled piece of rock that isn’t typical Foos, with Dave growling his way along to the heavy guitars. No, we get a powerhouse track that is more melodic and even breaks into a backing vocalist harmonizing to near church gospel mode. This sets a standard for the mood of the album and the subsequent tracks on side one (yes, I’m listening to this album on a purple splattered vinyl) keep the level high.

The first two singles, Shame Shame with its multi-layered percussion and Waiting On A War which is more traditional Foos but with real panache (going to be a live crowd pleaser, that one!), are both on side one alongside Cloudspotter, which hints towards a Lenny Kravitz style of funky backbeat, and the exceptional title track Medicine At Midnight. And it’s this track I want to talk more about because with it has a slow build to Dave’s vocal play and, I think, his voice shows elements of musical influences – this obviously being David Bowie from The Lodger album period. There is less growl at first, with a tenderness coming through in his voice but still retaining his trademark power style. The song slowly builds to its enviable full force climax where even the guitar solo sounds as if Earl Slick has entered the room, such is the Bowie influence – though this time with a nod to the Thin White Duke’s Station To Station. We know the Foo’s love music, especially Bowie. They even proved it when they played Under Pressure, the hit Queen & David Bowie song, live at Leeds Festival in 2019. So I’m not saying this as any form of criticism. What they do is an accomplished compliment to the late, great man’s style. An excellent track.

Side two of the album tends to slip back towards the Foo Fighters that we know, the first track being their third single from the album No Son Of Mine. A straight up rock song that does its best to please coming from the speakers at home, but you know will be a true crowd pleaser when Covid-19 finally lets us get back to watching music in its best form…live. Holding Poison once again utilizes the Bowie influence to create a good, but not the best, song on the album although the multi-layering vocals are again a true highlight.

As I listened to the next track, Chasing Birds, it just so happened that a flock of blackbirds flew across the sky outside my window. A perfect image for a perfect song. Sung in a soulful ballad style, this song provides a gentle atmospheric respite that lets you drift on calm waters. A real surprise and a welcome one too!

The album ends with the typical Foos style Love Dies Young. A growled out finale that shouts at you saying, “OK, we’ve tried something different this time around, but we can still rock like the best of them.”

Well when it comes to rock, the Foo Fighters are the best of them – beating many other ‘famous’ rock acts into the ground. Of course, live performances are where they win, a fact I can personally vouch for, and album-wise Medicine At Midnight will most definitely help them retain their crown of best rock act in the world today. This album is well worth your pennies people.

Listen to Medicine At Midnight on Spotify here.

Follow Foo Fighters on Instagram here.

All After Midnight links here.

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