Run and tell all of the angels, This could take all night Think I need a devil to help me get things right Hook me up a new revolution.
So wrote a certain Mr. Grohl a little while ago; lyrics that resonate as strongly nowadays as they did back then.
So it seems most appropriate that Grohl along with his fellow musical cohorts in the ranks of the Foo Fighters have returned, in these challenging times, to inject their brand of rock n’ roll into the arm of 2021 with their latest album ‘Medicine at Midnight’.
After all don’t we all need a ‘new revolution’? I, for one, most certainly do and am most happy to subscribe to this offering from Messieurs Grohl, Hawkins, Jaffee, Mendel, Shiflett and Smear.
Originally completed back in February last year ‘Medicine at Midnight’, the Foo’s tenth studio release, was intended to celebrate the band’s 25th anniversary.
However this never happened as Grohl explained in an interview, in December, with New York classic rock radio station Q104.3. “We were totally done. Mixed, mastered, ready to go.
Artwork was done, t-shirts were being made, equipment was on the trucks. We were good to go. And then everything just kind of shut down. Then it was months and months of trying to decide when we would release it.
OK, do we just put it out now?’ ‘No, let’s wait. Maybe we’ll see what happens.’ A month later, ‘Do we put it out now?’ ‘No, let’s wait.’”
Further into the interview, Grohl elucidated upon the passing of the months, “So, I was, like, right now, more than ever, people need something to lift their spirits, something to give them some feeling of relief or escape. I was, like: ‘We’ve gotta put it out.
Let’s put it out right now.’ I don’t know when we’re gonna hit the road, but we need to give the music to the people, ’cause that’s why we make it.”
Opening track ‘Making A Fire’, a summery 70s infused groove-rocker, kicks off matters with a US West coast feeling. Undeniably bright and airy it’s unashamedly optimistic.
From its funky Lenny Kravitz intro riffs to it’s rising choral outro, through a mid-song choral a capella section that raised the hairs on the back of my neck, this has feelgood written all over.
It’s interesting to note that this track’s backing / choral vocals were provided by Grohl’s 14 year old daughter Violet; efforts which have drawn deserved praise from her father who also adds that being her drummer is one of his life dreams.
Next up we slide into ‘Shame Shame’, released last November as the album’s lead single, this track is quite a divergence for the Foos. Grohl, vocally, tips a knowing hat to Bowie in part whilst the song funkily shuffles along in an enticing, eclectic manner inserting a sub-rock midpiece before returning to the eclecticism that preceded.
This is, for myself, a band stretching it’s wings confident in where it’s direction lies.
‘Cloudspotter’ is an outright rocker with a Crüe-like chorus that will have the masses singing along “sweet, sweet guillotine queen” for sure. A beautiful irony given how grunge swept away the excesses of the 80s hair-metal.
Released on Grohl’s 52nd birthday ‘Waiting on a War’, the third single that preceded the album, is a heartfelt, emotive acoustic track that begins as a balled before exploding into a typical full Foo furious electric rocker complete with rampant strings.
This is a classic in waiting; one that stadiums will reverberate too. It’s soulful, heart-wrenching lyrics were inspired by conversation Grohl had with his 11 year old daughter Harper in which she enquired if there was going to be a war.
Words that struck a chord with Grohl reminding him of his own concerns he felt as a child some 40 years previous; something I can personally relate to with the lyrics uncovering anxieties I felt at a similar age regarding the threat of nuclear war.
Title track ‘Medicine at Midnight’ is a dark funky number with great lyrics like the haunting “Time has run the river dry” with Grohl, once again, exposing a reverence for Bowie.
The tempo is notched right up with second single ‘No Son of Mine’; an absolute banging full-out no holds barred rocker, replete with pseudo-gothic backing vocals, that beautifully solders together Motorhead and Queen. Grohl snarls “Don’t forget what the good book says” as the band deliver a Foo-sized poke at the hypocrisy of self-righteous leaders.
This power is maintained with the following track ‘Holding Poison’ that barrels along in a frenetic manner with some fantastically irregular interchanges as the Foos chuck in Queen-like vocals, Yes-style riffs and more than a nod to Grohl’s earlier grungier efforts.
Heavenly ballad ‘Chasing Birds’ is as laidback as it comes; a brief mellow interlude that is surely Beatles inspired before the album closes out with stomping rocker ‘Love Dies Young’.
With it’s galloping shuffle intro, that harks to Queen’s ‘Keep Yourself Alive’, that builds up to an anthemic chorus; this is the Foos in all their senior statesman of rock glory.
A rollicking good romp that even throws in a riff similar to ‘Pinball Wizard’ for good measure. Why? Because they can!
Throughout ‘Medicine at Midnight’ the Foos take stock of their legacy and that of what has inspired them but gently push their own boundaries in tentative and worthwhile musical exploration. All in all a worthy addition to the catalogue that has borne so much quality.
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Review by Gary Spiller for MPM