Foo Fighters get out of their comfort zone on “Medicine At Midnight”


Photo courtesy of Silva Artists Management.

Owen Conway, Staff Writer

There are few musical acts that have been as consistently reliable from the start of their careers as the Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl and company have been pumping out arena-ready, easy-on-the-ears rock music for over 25 years, and any departures from the band’s signature sound have been minimal. 


Shades of experimentation were visible on the 2017 Foo Fighters album “Concrete and Gold,” with production by Greg Kurstin (of Adele and Kelly Clarkson fame, among others) bringing elements from the world of pop into the equation. On the newest Foo Fighters album “Medicine At Midnight,” Kurstin helped the Foos produce an album again to fulfill Dave Grohl’s ambitious vision of making a catchy, upbeat and poppish album.  


“Medicine At Midnight” is laden with nuances that are all new to Foo Fighters’ music, from the gospel choir fills in the opening track “Making A Fire,” to the Low Rider-esque cowbell of “Cloudspotter,” to the video game-like synthesizer licks of “Holding Poison.” 


Grohl also taps into his sensitive, soft-music side that he revives every once in a blue moon on tracks like “Waiting On A War” and “Chasing Birds” that feel genuinely sincere and not out of place on the album. The closing track “Love Dies Young,” with its shiny guitar and endlessly catchy verse and chorus, sounds like the best Killers song Brandon Flowers never wrote. 


Such a departure from the Foo Fighters’ usual, reliable sound could have been very clunky and awkward, if not for the band also filling the album with what they do best: head-banging rock. The three guitars of Dave Grohl, Chris Shiflett and Pat Smear coupled with the body-shaking bass of Nate Mendel make the album’s heaviest songs (with riffs reminiscent of the Foo Fighters album “Wasting Light”) easy to imagine as the catalyst for an arena full of people on their feet dancing along. And almost thirty years since trying his hand at singing lead in a band, Dave Grohl’s iconic sing-scream vocals have never sounded stronger. 


“Medicine At Midnight” may be a rock album by all accounts, but it is not a standard Foo Fighters album by any stretch of the imagination, and it is a welcome change.