First Impressions is a segment I started for giving quick, minimally-edited thoughts on an album. Without the benefit of research, multiple listens, or letting it “ruminate”, I try to just give my first impressions of the album based on just a couple of listens. It’s fun to look back on and see what all has changed, a few months, to a year, down the line. This is the third installment.
Wasting Light is my clear favorite Foo album. I’m not saying it’s their best. It’s probably not. But it’s my favorite. Very closely followed by the former favorite, One by One. I also liked, and maybe even loved, Concrete and Gold (despite what this review makes it sound like). In Your Honor holds its own, despite not really having the material for a double album. Saint Cecilia is completely overlooked and underrated, probably because it didn’t receive much hype (and is “only”an EP). There Is Nothing Left to Lose is completely overrated because it has “Learn to Fly”, and a lot of filler crap. The Colour and the Shape is as exactly as good as it was when it came out–no better, no worse.
And rightfully so, I forgot Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace when I first wrote the above paragraph. I usually do, though it’s probably much better than I remember. I also didn’t mention their self-titled debut album because that was basically just demos and hastily-written written lyrics that were fashioned into a solo project that Dave put under the name Foo Fighters. There’s also one other album that I didn’t mention; we’ll get to that.
So where does Medicine At Midnight rank among these? It’s too early to tell if it’s my new favorite. First Impressions are not where favorites are made. No, real favorites are forged in the fire of a thousand listens. A slow burn over real time, real emotions, real situations. Wasting Light became my favorite not because it was a perfect album, but because of the memories I had while listening–how applicable certain songs and lyrics felt to my life. It became the soundtrack to my life. I listened to it nonstop for months.
Remember how Sonic Highways was supposed to be inspired by a different city for each song? That was hilarious. But, it feels like Medicine at Midnight took inspiration from a different genre or artist for each track. It doesn’t feel like a ripoff or a cheap imitation, either. Each track feels like a very intentional, well-written, hashed out, fucking real song. And all 9 of them deserve to be on the album. Each song truly feels unique and discrete from one another, while firmly having the mark of Foo Fighters on them.
I wasn’t going to do this initially, but I think First Impressions would be even more fun with some preliminary track rankings. I love lists. I love order. I love categorizing shit. If you don’t, feel free to not read this or care about it. I will also include my very-early, very little edited first draft thoughts on these songs. I hesitate to do so because many listens will definitely change how I feel and what I hear. But it’s SUPPOSED to. This bit is called FIRST IMPRESSIONS though. Not Final Impressions. Not Eventual Impressions.
Even if this is just for me to look back on and make fun of myself for putting one song above another, or laugh at my hilariously bad takes, it will be good for posterity. I’m not going to number them though because it’s not that serious. You can get the general idea that the favorites are at the end, while least favorites are listed first.
“Waiting on a War” – Oh, a song about something. I’m ready to cringe. It sounds like they missed doing stuff from the second half of In Your Honor. Why can’t you make your soft, acoustic little bullshit songs as intentional and good as your other songs? Did different people write this vs “Cloudspotter”? I just do not feel this at all. It eventually quickens the pace and turns into a faster, punkier rock song. Much too late though. And it completely lacks any passion. The vocal melody sucks ass.
“Love Dies Young” – uptempo, punk-type rock song. It sounds like they definitely wrote the music first, coming up with a cool riff, but not knowing what to put with it. This isn’t a bad topic at all, but is it a love song or an anti-love song? It’s not the worst song. It’s not the best song. I like a lot of things about it, for instance, if this is a filler song, then we’re doing pretty good.
“Chasing Birds” – This was the obvious Taylor Hawkins song, guys, come on. It’s a little repetitive, but it’s a nice, pretty song. Kind of like what “Happy Ever After” was trying to be from Concrete and Gold. But better.
“No Son of Mine” – The other song I didn’t realize I’d heard already. Good ole fashioned rock song poking fun at religious zealots. I think of Motorhead and the song “Barricuda” when I hear this one. I am not saying that’s RIGHT of me, but I’m saying that’s what I think of.
“Shame Shame” – I only heard this song once before this album. It’s good. Hearing it again, I think it’s probably great. But I’m not sure. I don’t even know what to call this genre mashup. I’m confused, but I like it. It’s very controlled confusion. I have a hard time remembering it after I’ve heard it, but when I DO hear it, I always think, “wow, this is really good.”
“Making A Fire” – Who is this, The Black Crowes? Background singers that vaguely sound gospel-influenced. Rock that has a 90s alt rock leaning. Southern rock chorus (or one that very badly wants to be). It’s like if The Black Crowes wanted to make “Bridges Burning”, but in their style, and not too obvious that they copied it.
“Holding Poison” – I’m definitely sure this position will change, but I do like it a lot. Then I hear it all the way through, and I’m like, yes, this is top tier shit. It’s like if “Rope” and “Dear Rosemary” had a baby. OMG. It’s Rosemary’s baby. I don’t know how to describe this song. It’s spunky and punchy, but there’s an air of despair. I mean, poison is in the name. That probably helps.
“Medicine At Midnight” – This is the exact opposite of the previous song in the track listing (“Waiting on a War”). It hooks you in right away. Imagine, having a melody and beat on all your songs. Imagine. This sounds like Grohl trying to do Bowie during his glam rock phase? Best I can do. There’s probably a better comparison. But it was a compliment either way. This has so many good elements going for it.
“Cloudspotter” – This would be very at home in 90s alt rock for the soft, subdued verses and then louder chorus. Kind of the Foo Fighters’ specialty. This is better than pretty much anything they actually released in the 90s though. I have no idea what this is about, but it sounds like it knows what it’s talking about. The rhymes are tight. It absolutely goes off in all of its weird, perfect glory. This could easily still be my favorite 6 months from now.