Dave Grohl is a the epitome of a living legend. Having shot to fame as the drummer of Nirvana, he cemented his status as a music legend when he created the Foo Fighters, his own band with which he has just gone from strength to strength. He's directed a film, worked with every rock band under the sun and is also known as the nicest man in the business.
It comes as no surprise, then, that the Foos' latest effort once again hits the spot. Medicine at Midnight is a finely crafted set of tunes that, on the whole, sound just a tad more considered than much of their previous work. Grohl has described it as their "boogie album" and whilst I don't completely agree with that (it's still not particularly dancey), there is a noticeable lack of all-out rock on here. Sure, there are exceptions ('No Son of Mine' and 'Holding Poison' both turn it up), but in general, this album has a bit more emotion and a bit more complexity to it than the straightforward hard rock sound for which they're primarily known.
This is neither criticism nor an appraisal; it's simply a description of what this album is in relation to their back catalogue. It's a change in direction, which is a risk for any band, but we're talking about the Foo Fighters here, so of course they've pulled it off. From the moment it starts with the slighty Tom Petty-esque 'Making a Fire', you know you're in for a great time. The song doesn't take itself too seriously and yet still sounds that little bit more grown-up; it's the sound of a band who know exactly what they're doing and are having fun doing it.
Particular highlights include the single 'Shame Shame', a fantastic slice of music thats very difficult to define in terms of genre, and fourth track 'Waiting on a War', which sports a chorus so anthemic it should actually be titled 'Waiting on a Gig'. It'll be a hit at festivals, that's for sure. 'No Son of Mine' is also a great, riff-heavy tune for those who do find themselves craving a bit more old-school guitar work.
The addition of female vocals throughout the record adds a different flavour to a whole bunch of the songs. Adding in a woman's voice to counter and contrast that of Grohl's helps add some variety to the album and is a shrewd move by the band. One of the voices, in fact, is that of Grohl's 14yo daughter Violet, whose high vocals can be heard during the chorus of 'Making a Fire'.
Another strength of the album is that it really doesn't outstay its welcome. With 9 songs that come in at a total of just under 40 minutes, it's actually a rather brief experience but no worse for it. We live in a busy world and attention spans continue to shorten all the time; I know mine certainly isn't like it used to be. Some albums pack themselves to the brim with songs that could easily have been put on an EP or on another album altogether, making them a bit of a marathon to listen. However, Medicine at Midnight gives you a solid set of tunes that you can blast through without taking too much time out of your day and this certainly works in its favour.
There will be those grumbling that this isn't a rockier record, but by this point Grohl and co. have more than earned the right to do whatever the Hell they like with their music. And though it hasn't blown me off my feet, Medicine at Midnight is yet another solid entry into remarkably consistent catalogue that Foo Fighters hold. It's certainly worth your time.