EDITOR’S NOTE: Jack R. Jordan wrote and filed this review before the death of Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins. He replaced the column last week with a memorial article on Hawkins. Here is the original review of the latest Foo Fighters album.
Well, it’s finally time. I can finally talk about one of my favorite bands of all time, the Foo Fighters.
If you’ve been living under a rock since the 90s, you might never have heard of the Foo Fighters. Fronted by Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, the nicest guy in rock and roll, the band recently released an album and a movie within the past two months.
Yes, you read that right, a rock band just released a movie based on their experiences recording their 10th album, “Medicine at Midnight.” The movie titled “Studio 666” is about a metal band named Dream Widow (played by members of the Foo Fighters) who attempt to record an album in a haunted house.
But I’m not here to write about the film. Even though I’m sure the movie is going to be pretty cheesy, you can be sure I’ll see it.
Today I want to review the album “Medicine at Midnight”. Originally released in February, the post-grunge, alt-rock sound that made Foo Fighters famous is given pride of place. But what sets the Foo Fighters apart from most groups is their ability to evolve.
This album features all six members of the band’s current lineup: Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Rami Jaffee, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett and Pat Smear along with 11 other additional musicians, including Grohl’s daughter, Violet, throughout the ‘album. These additional musicians include backing vocalists, cellists, percussionists, violists, violinists, and even a harp player.
Now, if you’re unfamiliar with the Foo Fighters, you might be thinking, “why the hell do they need all that for a rock album?” You just don’t know Dave Grohl and longtime producer and engineer Mark “Spike” Stent. Both are used to making music that is out of the ordinary but almost always extraordinary.
If you need convincing on Stent’s resume, he’s worked with a variety of bands, including Oasis, Massive Attack, U2, Linkin Park, Depeche Mode, Frank Ocean, Madonna, Ed Sheeran, Green Day, Arcade Fire and so on. right now. He also helped produce seven Grammy Award-winning top albums. It was also nominated for four Album of the Year awards, but failed to clinch it. In short, with him at the helm, it’s a good recipe for a good LP.
Debuting on the Billboard 200 at number three and number one on America’s Top Rock Albums, the album enjoyed great initial success. It dropped drastically from the Billboard 200 landing somewhere in the low 170s as of March 25, but still sits well at number two on the Top Rock chart.
But for me, the album just isn’t perfect. There are times on the album where I feel like the Foo Fighters are absent and others where I feel like those background instruments could have been played more. I will say that the band hasn’t released an album that I absolutely adored since their seventh album, “Wasting Light”, which featured chart topping songs like “Rope” and “White Limo”.
These songs hit so hard and in my opinion were so popular because these background elements were perfectly matched and blended into the formation of the songs. These elements didn’t have as much play, and when they did, it was perfectly matched.
Since we’ve been talking a lot about fusion artists lately, I’d say that if any band can cross genres, it’s the Foo Fighters as they’ve done so successfully in the past. In fact, drummer Hawkins even said the album was more “pop oriented” in a press interview to promote “Studio 666.”
Overall I would say the album is good. Not great. There are definitely bright spots that perfectly display the band’s ability to blend the various instruments they include. Songs like “Shame Shame” and the title track give up full control of the beat and let the background instruments take over instead of the guitar and it works. Even beautiful sometimes.
But other songs make me want to know more. Songs like “Love Dies Young” and “Holding Poison” remove these background elements and the song doesn’t feel complete.
I will continue to support the group. They are still a bucket list group to see live. I marked many on my list but they seem to escape me. While they keep releasing albums that just don’t touch me, I’m a die-hard fan. If you’re interested in hearing music that you probably wouldn’t hear if Grohl didn’t make it, I recommend “Medicine at Midnight.” But if you want to hear some quintessential Foo Fighters, try “Wasting Light”, “In Your Honor”, their live album “Skin and Bones” or their album “Greatest Hits”.
Jack R. Jordan is a reporter for The Moultrie Observer.