Back in the cold dark days of January 2021 before Medicine At Midnight dropped, Ver Foos were revving up their album promo engine. They released Shame Shame first. In 2020. I was suitably intrigued. It did do something different to any Foo Fighters single before it. Dave and the band were doing press talking about how this was their ‘dance’ album and invoking Bowie and Nile Rodgers in interviews. Second single No Son Of Mine put me at ease that we were not about to get their Jazz Odyssey period. I was excited for MAM the same way I had been for Gigaton in 2020. There would (it appeared) still be rock songs on the record and they were not (I was pretty sure) about to deliver the sort of disappointment Kiss did with their disco period. Then the third single came.
Waiting On A War put me right off. I thought it was naive. Poorly written. Lazy lyrics and in all honesty it reminded me of the one time Liam Gallagher was allowed to write a song for Oasis. I faltered. A bit. Foo Fighters are still one of my most trusted pillars of the modern Great Hall of Rock and Roll Valhalla. Everyone is allowed a wobble. I wasn’t keen on The Sky Is A Neigbourhood first time I heard it either. And that worked out just fine.
I still bought Medicine At Midnight on release day. I got it on CD (a rare thing in this day and age) so I could keep it in the car. First play through was at five am on February fifth on the drive to work. I liked some of the album a lot. Other bits were fine. I skipped Waiting On A War.
I can genuinely see the comparisons between this and Let’s Dance (the album) in places. Chasing Birds felt like some cod-Beatles wistfulness at first listen but the title track kicked ass. I liked the backing vocals on Making A Fire, the melody on Holding Poison and the closing track Love Dies Young was a gallop, with cool retro synths. And it sounded totally right. So not a bad album by any means. Was it worth holding back a year? Not for me to say. I’d give the album another spin on the drive home.
With the week behind me and an early finish I didn’t skip any of the singles this time. It felt like more of an album (maybe I felt like more of a listener). They all went in on each other quite well. Chasing Birds had a cool chimey guitar line near the end and it was sort of dreamy. Waiting On A War though. It fitted right in. Between the drawn out melody of Cloudspotter and the title track it made a lot more sense. So did Shame Shame after the opener. This was a proper album. Where all the songs ground each other to the architecture of the record as a whole.
By the time spring had rolled around the CD rip of Medicine At Midnight had clicked up a fair few spins on the computer, the TV plug in and on my phone when bluetoothing to the speaker in the front room. Waiting On A War has become a favourite. Mrs ForTheDeaf loves it. She talks about ‘when we go to see them’ when it’s playing. I keep coming back to the crowning glory of Love Dies Young. It’s a full on anthem of a song. It’s doing stuff that the band of old couldn’t have. Foo Fighters detractors talk about all their records sounding the same. Classic rock tropes and that scream. The criticism of some of the mid-period albums being too full of filler I think is fair. One By One is a hard record to love all the way through. There are parts of In Your Honor even the band deride.
Since their analogue rebirth around the Neve desk and the Sound City documentary I think the bands Cardboard Sleeve era has birthed some of their best albums. For my own personal list of approval the latter day Foo classics are ranked: The best one Wasting Light. Then Medicine At Midnight, Sonic Highways, Concrete & Gold. Four great albums that do all sorts of other stuff while being eyes front, head back rock and roll. Their best album will probably always be The Color And The Shape though. You can’t ask a band to better a genre defining classic. Not even Radiohead have managed that. The last Greatest Hits set from this band came out over a decade ago. Scooping up the pre- cardboard era hits and adding the underrated Wheels and Word Forward. Two primo singles by any other rock bands measure.
Sure there’s been side gigs, EP’s and stand alone singles since. In between Sonic Highways and Wasting Light the bargain fan treat Saint Cecila outshone it’s longer playing siblings. 2017’s Soldier hinted that the synths would become an increasing part of the bands sound next time around. Dave’s epic instrumental jam Play and a thousand other treats have made Foo Fighters fandom an absolute fucking pleasure. Hail Satin around record store day left me cold however. Medicine At Midnight deserves a place near the top of the leader board of important FF records. That Greatest Hits Volume 2 is going to be a belter too, but this is definitely their ‘albums’ period.