Rock is not dead, but it is dying. As unfortunate as it sounds, rock as we know it has given up the limelight it once knew. Rock musicians are losing their dominance on the charts, failing to pack mega-sized concert halls and fading away from superstardom. Some live in ignorance of rock’s slow and painful death, while others are innovating rock’s sound into more interesting, experimental music. The Foo Fighters seem to belong to the first category, desperately clinging to rock’s past and living in ignorance of the changing tides of the music industry.
As one of the most popular and influential rock bands of the past 25 years, the Foo Fighters are committed to keeping the old ways of rock alive. However, this strategy has led to stagnation, and the Foo Fighters have spent the past ten years putting out cookie-cutter, uninteresting albums. Medicine at Midnight is no exception.
When listening to Medicine at Midnight, its mediocracy becomes immediately apparent. The first 30 seconds of the first track, “Making a Fire,” give the listener everything they need to know about the album. Opening with a groovy drum beat, poppy-sounding power chords and a chorus chanting “na na na na,” “Making a Fire” sounds like it could have come from a hundred different artists in the early 2010s.
Unfortunately for Medicine at Midnight, most of the tricks up the Foo Fighters’ sleeves are revealed here. Without a clear identity or any killer singles, Medicine at Midnight doesn’t have much more to offer than the same pop-rock tropes heard thousands of times before.
In delivering a string of inoffensive and uninspired songs, most of the tracks on Medicine at Midnight lack a clear identity and are unable to stand out among one another. In fact, the two most distinguishable songs off the tracklist are the album’s best, “Waiting on a War,” and worst, “Chasing Birds.”
“Waiting on a War” encapsulates the potential the Foo Fighters have to create a truly great album. With a slow build from intimate acoustic strumming to fast-paced power rock and thought-provoking social commentary, “Waiting on a War” could make an excellent addition to a more inspired Foo Fighters project. It’s a shame that this truly good song has to be on the same album as the borderline annoying “Chasing Birds.” “Chasing Birds” almost feels like Dave Grohl’s best attempt at writing a Beatles song. With an overly cheesy guitar pattern and cliché-infused lyrics, “Chasing Birds” does not feel like a track that should have been greenlit for a Foo Fighters project.
None of the songs on Medicine at Midnight are genuinely bad, but most of them aren’t particularly good either. It seems the Foo Fighters have crafted an album that lives in a state of purgatory, where being excessively mediocre is almost worse than being outright bad. While many interesting ideas are flirted with in the album, such as the noticeably groovier nature of many of the tracks, none of these elements seem to be capable of saving this album from oblivion.
In the long run, it seems Medicine at Midnight will do more harm than good for rock’s future. By not reading the writing on the wall and sticking to the formula, the Foo Fighters appear to be dead set on a path toward irrelevancy. This is incredibly unfortunate, as the Foo Fighters — especially Dave Grohl — are some of the most wholesome and hard-working characters in the rock world.
It’s clear that the Foo Fighters are deeply passionate about what they put out and truly care about their fans. However, this is not enough to convince the rest of the music world that their sound should be dominant again. With an excellent backlog full of experimentation and incredible songs, it is absolutely within the Foo Fighters’ potential to create another amazing album.
Let’s hope they haven’t thrown in the towel just yet.
Daily Arts Writer Kai Bartol can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.