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March 8, 2021

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Icon music review: Medicine At Midnight - Foo Fighters

Does it get any better than Foo Fighters? Hit after hit, these songs distract from life’s problems

Reviewed by Craig Hoffman 
Medicine at Midnight is the tenth studio album by American rock band Foo Fighters. Scheduled for 2020, the album was delayed to February 5, 2021 due to the pandemic. Three singles were released ahead of the album: “Shame Shame,” “No Son of Mine,” and "Waiting on a War.”

Dave Grohl called Medicine at Midnight the Foo Fighters’ “Saturday night party album.” It functions as an acknowledgment that the band is often not “fun.” Foo Fighters address that by jumping into disco and dance, the syncopations and polyrhythms. Big riffs battle with the kind of nagging singalong choruses the band has avoided over the years. And it works well.

The tenth Foo Fighters’ album is like finding yourself on the best roller coaster ride at an amusement park. It’s a wonderful testament to a great band finding ways to branch out artistically while remaining relevant on the music scene. 

Medicine at Midnight received positive reviews. At Metacritic, the release received an average score of 75, giving it “generally favorable reviews.” Alexandra Pollard of the Independent called it, “a perfectly perfunctory addition to a canon of robust rock’n’roll…” But it is not all guitar shredding and banging on the drums.

There are ballads. “Waiting on a War,” a reflection of a lifetime spent in the shadow of combat that builds to a cathartic crescendo, plus the dreamy “Chasing Birds.” These tunes offer a break from the heavier rock moments. 

Foo Fighters’ singer and guitarist Dave Grohl said that “Shame Shame” is unlike anything Foo Fighters have ever done before and that the song allowed them to “move into another territory” with their sound on their new album, Medicine at Midnight. Foo Fighters took back the record of most number 1’s on the Billboard Rock Airplay chart. The fastest rise to the top of the chart in four years

Grohl goes on to say about the “Shame Shame” production process, “I knew the vibes were definitely off, but the sound was [explicative] on. We would come back to the studio the next day and all of the guitars would be detuned. Or the setting we'd put on the [mixing] board, all of them had gone back to zero. We would open up a Pro Tools session and tracks would be missing. There were some tracks that were put on there that we didn’t put on there. But just like weird open mic noises. Nobody playing an instrument or anything like that, just an open mic recording a room.”

According to the band's bassist Nate Mendel, “Shame Shame” started off as a “just a bunch of clicks from Dave” and didn’t involve any bass line until he ended up recording extra parts for the song. It’s one of a number of great tunes on the album, albeit slightly feeling out of place. But that is a minor criticism.

What’s so great about Medicine At Midnight is its concise approach, and its ability to never get bogged down by the endless layers of background vocals or instrumental accompaniment. It is a beautiful synergy of creativity and musicianship.

Final take: Does it get any better than Foo Fighters? Hit after hit, these songs distract from life’s problems. Music produced, not out of necessity but passion. Medicine At Midnight is an absolute must download for fans. Awesome!: 5/5

Craig Hoffman is a music graduate of Ohio Northern University and The University of Akron School of Music. He also serves as the Icon’s Japan correspondent.