On Medicine At Midnight Foo Fighters Embrace Disco & Funk Roots

The music of Foo Fighters is never a far cry from the band’s influences. That’s true with their 2021 release, Medicine At Midnight: an album that throws into a melting pot their rock tendencies, disco roots, and funk fascinations. If this sounds interesting to you, that’s because it is.

“I was always using David Bowie’s Let’s Dance album as reference,” says Dave Grohl, the group’s founding member and primary songwriter. It is his belief that all musicians deep down inside have a disco groove, one that only comes out to play when the time is right. Add a healthy portion of rock to the equation, and it’s fair to say the band could not have chosen a better time.

“Making A Fire” kicks off the album with immediate liberating rock euphoria. Grohl focuses on the ignition of a long extinguished inner flame, as shown by the chorus lyric “I’ve waited a lifetime to live/It’s time to ignite/I’m making a fire.” The feeling of relatability shared by many whose lives have been put on pause makes this song enjoyable to many, and inspiring for all.

“Shame Shame,” the album’s first single, follows. It’s the last thing you’d expect from a Foo Fighters record; a song that’s grim, yet playfully mysterious. A surprise for sure and exactly what Grohl wanted. “I thought this should be the first track people hear, so they realize this album isn’t like Foo Fighters records that have gone before.”

Once we’re made unsure of who we’re really listening to, “Cloudspotter” reassures with intense lyrics backed by hard rock grittiness. The song’s key line, “Swing, swing, guillotine queen/Cut me back down to size,” especially stands out with its formidable desire for pain, as if that were the only way to feel at all. “Waiting On A War” on the other hand, presents a longing for peace. Grohl recalls from his childhood days the fear he felt from the constant threat of nuclear war. That fear remains relevant to today’s children, especially with last year’s tension between America and North Korea.

With its never before heard on a Foo Fighter’s album funk groove, “Medicine At Midnight” showcases the David Bowie influence. Yet, despite that, the lyrics are far from belonging in the nearest disco (as if you have a disco near you anymore). Here, Grohl covers the unhealthy cravings that do us harm as well as those who care for us. Grohl’s self-awareness carries forth onto “No Son Of Mine,” where he passionately sings for a better future with our children. “Holding Poison” is the last of the self-aware tracks. It’s an energetic punk party, which metaphorically puts stress on being mindful for the sake of others.

“Chasing Birds” is something special, that’s for sure. It completely escapes the dark exuberance of this album to ask the age-old question, why do bad things happen to good people? Grohl provides no answer, which helps make this a hopelessly addicting song.

“Love Dies Young” then closes this album, in a way the title does not begin to suggest. This upbeat, feel-good tune criticizes love as a childhood wonder, merely reinforcing the ever-growing fondness for it.

If praise is all you came for, this is where you should stop reading. Quite simply put, this record does not sound good. In fact, I found it to be reminiscent of the loudness wars (which I thought were mostly over). To say the least, unless you’re an avid collector, avoid this at all costs.

Flip the page and the physical product is exceptional. This flat, centered, scuff-free record came straight from the Pallas pressing plant (we like Pallas). A lyric sheet, decorative inner sleeve, and separate paper inner sleeve are all included. I see logic in switching this record over to a proper inner sleeve, but if you don’t, you’ll be okay. It’s got a coating which while still not optimal (no pun intended!), will leave the vinyl less prone to scuffing.

At the end of the day, though not through the vinyl release, this album is the medicine I yearn for each night. Given a couple listens, you soon could say the same.

(Nathan Zeller is a music-obsessive Beatles fanatic from Western Canada. Born with a piano teacher for a father, and a teacher at a music-oriented elementary for a mother, you could say he didn’t choose this life, rather it chose him. Currently Nathan’s wondering who’s been turning the amplifier off throughout the day.)

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Tom L's picture

Although the FF have somewhat broadened their sound, I don't hear much disco in this album.
Thank God.

Nathan Zeller's picture

I knew this was meant to be their "disco" album going in, but after my first listen I didn't know what they were talking about. Eventually I could point out specific spots where the funk/disco influence took effect, notably with the drums. It's still a Foo Fighters album though, that's for sure.

Tom L's picture

Yes, I can hear some sort of disco-ish patterns in some drum parts. It's not like the Stones "Miss You" or Blondie's "Heart of Glass", where you can almost hear the band members saying "Disco is in, let's do a disco song!" Not that those are bad songs, they're both pretty good.
Did you ever figure out the culprit behind your amp problem?

Nathan Zeller's picture

Unfortunately, I'm clueless as to how my amp keeps getting switched off. Everybody in my house understands that leaving it on allows for it to perform better, so I've narrowed the possibilities down to there being a gremlin lurking about.

Neward Thelman's picture

Can't ever get enough thumpus. Thumpus non-interruptus.

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