Slowthai has to be one of the weirdest yet most unique rappers to ever come out of the UK and that's why I was super excited for this album. UK Punk music has been evolving greatly over the past decade with bands like shame and IDLES keeping the spirit alive, and while Slowthai might not be punk rock in the traditional sense, he does really carry that energy. If you can't wrap your head around that, just listen to the song doormanfrom his first full-length album Nothing Great About Britain. The punk energy on the song is insane with the distorted, pulsing bass and Slowthai's vocal delivery on the song is super angry and super brief too. Listening to the song makes me want to rob my own house. And ever that first album, Slowthai has been on an insane hot streak. From his collaborative track with Denzel Curry, PSYCHO, a song that I almost died in a mosh pit too, to his feature on the Gorillaz song Momentary Bliss which went over waaaaaay better than I expected it to. So much so that it ended up at #6 on my Best Songs of 2020 list. Then the promotional cycle to this album started which boosted my hopes up even more. The lead single to this album, feel away, featuring James Blake and Mount Kimbre blew me away on first listen. I love the lo-fi and delayed piano in the beat and even though I wish the trap drums were replaced by some live instrumentation, it still doesn't take away from the song. Also worthy to mention is how great James Blake's vocal performance on the song is but to be fair, James Blake could sing on top of a Merzbow song and make it sound beautiful.
There's also the song nhs which has some of the most compelling lyrics that Slowthai has ever penned singing about how you have to have bad experiences to get to the good, singing:
What's a flight without turbulence?
A life without circumstance?
Boxing without another stance?
Country with no coat of arms?
Estate with no dogs that bark?
There's also a line on here about fixing your flaws where he sings, "Always had the bum knee, you will always be chubby / If you suck in your tummy, when you're starin' at the mirror." I also really love the line on here where he says, "A rapper without jewelry? A real person surely," saying that while a lot of rappers try to project this larger than life image when you look behind the smoke and mirrors, they're still a normal person with normal everyday struggles. The last single I listened to MAZZA confirmed a theory I had going into this album that the songs with all caps in the title would be more energetic and go a little harder while the songs that were all lowercased would be softer, a little more mellow too. But back to MAZZA, the song is a banger, no question. Slowthai's energy on this song is great and the beat almost reminds me of something that might have turned up on Playboi Carti's Die Lit. There's also a great A$AP Rocky feature who starts his verse off with a fantastic line rapping, "Olive, body shaped like a bottle / Popeye off of spinach." I don't think I've ever heard a bad A$AP Rocky feature so this is just another trophy on the mantle for him.
So going into this album, I had reasonably high hopes. I was expecting Slowthai to deliver and I was hoping that there would be more songs in the style of nhs and feel away. I was also excited to hear some of the other unreleased features on the album, most notably Skepta and Denzel Curry. So, after multiple listens, I think I'm gonna have to make a bold claim here. ahem. I think this is the best album of 2021 so far. On this album, Slowthai has really come into his own as an artist. Across the 14 songs on this album, I have very, very few nitpicks and problems with this album. It's very consistent, I don't think there's a single bad song here, and most importantly, Slowthai continually kills it all over this album.
45 SMOKE is like a kick in the teeth to open the album. I can just picture being at a show and fearing for my life the second the beat drops in, it's made for moshing and jumping too. There's also his delivery on the song which is full of energy while he raps lines like "I never walk alone like Merseyside," or one of the final lines on the first verse, "Keep doublin', tryna multiply / Money to me like sh*t for a fly." CANCELLED with the Skepta feature I mentioned earlier has one of the hardest hooks on the album with Skepta rapping, "How you gonna cancel me? / Twenty awards on the mantelpiece / Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury / Girls in the crowd got their hands on me." If that little blurb didn't make it obvious, the song takes aim at cancel culture, pretty much saying, "Why are you gonna let me accomplish all this stuff and then try to take it away?" This is more than likely a reference to Slowthai's incident at the NME Awards last year where after receiving the "Hero of the Year Award," some dirty jokes led to Slowthai almost fighting an audience member who called him a "misogynist." And look, I'm not a 100% supporter of cancel culture. Incidents like Slowthai's or incidents where someone said something stupid 30 years ago should be forgiven and shouldn't ruin someone's career. However, when you get into some of the more extreme cases like Chris Brown or more recently, Armie Hammer, I think it's fair to strip someone of all they've accomplished, but that's beside the point. Slowthai's verse on the song has some great one liners, especially the opening line where he raps "I ain't an actor, f*ck the Oscars / Main stage in my boxers." I also love the rhyme scheme of the lines:
Ayy, she said I do magic
Like Harry Potter, I'm off the vodka
Orderin' lobster, said it's preposterous
I'm so obnoxious, I need a doctor
VEX is a song about fake people or people who look for validation via social media. There's a hilarious line in the first verse where Slowthai raps, "Can't be my slime, I don't roll with eels." But the rest of the song is great. Slowthai's flow on the song is smooth as butter and the beat slaps. The booming bass and tight drums on the song are fantastic as well. And besides that eel line, there are some other great bars all over the song, especially near the end of the second verse where he raps:
Calm down, darling, your poom poom's loose
I see you're tryna flex right now
Don't care about you or your Jimmy Choos
I ain't playin' kiss chase, I ain't playin' Duck Duck Goose
Can tell that you ain't got a clue
WOT quickly follows this and this song is one of my few gripes as I need this song to be longer. It clocks in at only 50 seconds but it packs a mighty punch in that time. DEAD has a really slick vocal sample in the chorus and I love the piano that's laced into the beat as well. Once again, Slowthai bridges the gap between serious and funny, opening up the song by saying, "See me posted up with a bimbo." I also like the lines about how money changes people saying "When it's ugly change for money, see that they ain't got no spine / People change for money, what's money with no time? / Say it once, say it once, yeah, everybody dies." I also like how tough he portrays himself in this song saying "No one here ever can knock my posture / I stand tall, you ball, curl up and sob, bruh." PLAY WITH FIRE ends the first half of the album and it bridges the gap between discs perfectly. Lyrically, it's the beginning of Slowthai getting a little deeper, more introspective. It's the "look behind the curtain moment" I mentioned about the song nhs. I love the pitch-shifted guitars on the song and the synth line throughout the verses is a really tasteful touch. It almost feels like a BROCKHAMPTON song at times, I can picture Matt Champion and Joba spitting on top of this instrumental. While there are some funny lines, there's also plenty of lines that show Slowthai shedding his ego and realizing he's not a mountain among molehills. I really like the line about how "a chain's only as strong as its links" and it's hilariously followed up by Slowthai saying that "the coke makes the cats look like they're Jar Jar Binks, top it off with a wink." There's a little beat switch that leads to what sounds like you're stuck inside Slowthai's head as all of these different lines sort of piling on top of each other. It's a chaotic end to the first half but it works out.
i tried has some of the most beautiful production on the album with some great guitar samples, some upright bass, and some super crisp drums. Lyrically, Slowthai is singing about how even though he has this level of fame and is at the top of his game, he still doesn't know where he's going and feels lost, opening up the song by saying, "long road, took a tumble down this black hole." I also really like the final few lines of his verse where he says:
Running from my struggles back and forth like the Chuckles
As morbid as it seems, I'll never wake up from this sleep
If Hell's meant for sinning, Heaven's never been for me
The song focus features production from Mr. Kenny Beats and Slowthai might have even made a new producer tag for him saying at the beginning of the song, "Kenny, you're mad for this one." In the song, Slowthai is singing about how even though he portrays himself as being super tough and a drug dealer, he's still never wanted to end up in jail or dead. He describes it as telling himself "just focus on some other sh*t." I love the line about how the lesser version of himself, or him in a normal state is the cinderella that fits into the shoe. I also love the lines where he says "Said I'd be nothing, you must be Helen Keller / Under the weather, can't predict my future / Off the Richter and he crazy like Victor." terms was the song I was most excited for considering that Dominic Fike and Denzel Curry both were featured on the song but if you're going into the song expecting Denzel to spit, you'll be disappointed, just like I was. Rather than a verse, there are just some pitch-shifted vocal snippets that pop up during the chorus which I've warmed up to but I'm still salty that Denzel couldn't spit. Dominic Fike's chorus is fantastic, singing about coming to the terms of being famous and Slowthai's flow on the song is just unrelenting with some great rhymes and a stone-cold delivery. The beat is super spacey and atmospheric, it's borderline transcension material.
push features Deb Never who I was sort of familiar with due to a great performance on BROCKHMAPTON's last album with the song NO HALO. Her performance on the song is super soft, super dreamy, it almost reminds me of Little Dragon at sometimes. I love the acoustic guitars that drive the beat and the nice trap drums as well. Once again, Slowthai comes through super introspective. The line about selling drugs to get richer is like getting "a royal flush on a river" is super clever, pretty much saying that's it's super high risk but super high reward. I also really love the line "He drowned, got baptized, oh well, I guess that's life." I didn't think I would say this but in the context of the album, I think I enjoy nhs and feel away even more than I already did. If I loved these songs before, I adore them now. The album ends on the song adhd which is Slowthai rapping about his struggles with the disorder and it's a really emotional and vulnerable moment to end the album on. The lines about how he's trying to get a grip before slipping and melting stings, even more so the line right after where he says "Sittin' in a pit, only me and myself
/ I can't deal with the screams, only screamin' at myself." The shots at himself continue throughout the 2nd verse with lines like "Overthink, sink in my seat / Eat, sleep, repeat, what you know about T?" and one that cuts deep in the middle of the verse where he raps:
Slave to the progress
I obsess 'cause I ain't got control yet
I'm tryna fly but my wings feel broken
An eagle encaged in a closure
There's a little interlude near the end of the song where Slowthai calls (allegedly) his brother who is currently incarcerated, telling him that he loves him and misses him every day he's not around, it's another really sweet moment. On the final verse, he sort of comes unhinged with an angrier delivery before he calms down for the album's final moments.
Once again, I just have to say that this album is fantastic and I can't find too many flaws here. Maybe I should've come to expect this level of quality from him but I'm still blown away by how well-produced and how enjoyable this album is. The beat selection all over the album is great and the difference between Side A and B of this album goes over much better than I expected it to. While I do love when Slowthai jumps on a grimey, energetic banger, it's the softer and more vulnerable moments of this album that really let all of Slowthai's talents shine. And while I don't expect Slowthai to make a full album of soft songs anytime soon, I wouldn't reject it.
I would rate
Tyron is available wherever you stream or buy music. Clear Vinyl is available at your local independent record store, standard black vinyl is available everywhere else, a link to purchase online is HERE.
I always enjoy surprise drops because they don't give me any time to set expectations or try to disappoint myself on the first listen. I sort of just throw my headphones on and dive in. And this album announcement really threw me for a loop. All signs were pointing towards a new Paramore album being in the fold next but here we are, less than a year later, with another solo album from Hayley Williams. For those who are unfamiliar, Hayley is the lead singer of one of the most popular power pop bands of the last 15 years Paramore. The band broke out into the mainstream in 2007 with the album RIOT! which is filled from cover to cover with great riffs, tons of energy, and bangers for days with songs like crushcrushcrush, That's What You Get, and most notably, Misery Business. Their following albums, Brand New Eyes and Paramore, I wasn't head over heels for but both albums had some great moments. The songs Misguided Ghosts and All I Wanted on Brand New Eyes are fantastic and if you want a great introduction to Paramore, listen to the songs Ain't It Fun and Still Into You off of the self-titled album, they're perfect pop and rock blends. The band then completely changed their sound with 2017s After Laughter, an album that embraced more disco and new wave and synth-pop influence. A lot of these songs sound super happy, super summery, but when you dive into the lyrics, it's really sad. For example the opening song Hard Times has a super slick guitar lick, some tight drums, and just makes you feel good and makes you wanna dance. Meanwhile, Hayley is singing in the chorus about how hard times in life are "gonna make you wonder why you even try...gonna take you down and laugh when you cry." The whole album is an incredible balancing act of happy sound but sad lyrics.
Hayley Williams (middle) pictured with Paramore bandmates Taylor York (L) and Zac Farro (R)
And last year the experimenting continued with Williams dropping a solo album made up of 3 EPs named Petals for Armor which I reviewed pretty positively. I loved and still do love Hayley's writing all over the album and a lot of the Radiohead influence on the album suits her voice and performances well. But now we're here and like I said, I really expected a new Paramore album before this but I really will not complain. In a statement on her Instagram story, Hayley said that this album was recorded entirely in her Nashville home and that she recorded and performed every sound you hear on this album which really piqued my interest and got me interested for this album. She also clarified that Paramore is still a band so at least we have that to still look forward to.
The album clocks in at 14 songs long, 42 minutes, and on the instrumental front, this album isn't really that assuming. Most of the songs are led by pianos and acoustic guitar and at points, I think that's one of the albums few downfalls as a lot of the songs just start blending together or sounding similar. And there was a comparison that I saw thrown around a lot from people during their first listens and I have to concur with the comparison they're making. This album is unapologetically influenced by Taylor Swift's two surprise albums last year folklore and evermore. Hayley herself even said in a studio video that this would be her folklore so I guess we knew what we were getting into. And you know what I'll be honest, on first listen, I didn't really care for this album and even found it a little boring. But reading into the lyrics and not listening to the album at 1 AM really opened a whole new door for this album.
Williams performing with Paramore at Concrete Street Amphitheater in Corpus Christi, Texas.
The opening song First Thing To Go starts the album off strong but like I said, there isn't too much going on instrumentally, just Hayley and an acoustic guitar. I love the rhythm in the chorus with the alternating octaves and the tempo going to double time. The song lyrically is about Hayley losing her grip on a lover who eventually walks out on here. There are some lines on here that sting, whether it's Hayley singing about how she "heard what I wanted until I couldn't" or any line in the second verse where she sings:
Time moves slow, I just talk to myself
I finish my own sentences the way you used to
Why do memories glow the way real moments don't? Ah
My altar is full of our love's delusions
The opening line on the song also sets the tone for it well with Hayley singing about how the first thing to leave was the sound of this lover's voice. My Limb is a song that Hayley leaked herself at the end of January. I'm still not 100% sure if I like it but once again, the lyrics are solid so I don't really have to think about it. On the song, Hayley is taking the act of cutting yourself off from someone quite literally, opening the song by saying "If you gotta amputate, don't give me the tourniquet." Once again, the second verse stands out more than the first with Hayley singing about how the other person in the relationship is a "shy little rabbit, teething on a shotgun." Asystole actually has a little more instrumental build to it. I love the glimmering synths and the muffled pianos that pop up across the song. There's also a nice guitar lead and some tambourine that add a nice atmosphere to the song. The outro to this song is one of many moments on this album that refers back to Petals for Armor with Hayley singing "revive another side of me" referencing the song Watch Me While I Bloom where she sings "you only got one side of me."
Trigger is a song where Hayley is looking back on past relationships and experiences and not in a positive way, the whole first verse is just emotionally devastating. She sings:
All I ever had to say about love is a sad song
I get off on telling everybody what went wrong
It makes me feel like the pain had a purpose
Keeps me believing that maybe it's worth it
Truth is, all I really want is somebody who wants me
Somebody I can count on who won't disappoint me
At first, it seems easy, I vow not to give up
Let 'em debase me while keeping my chin up
I also love the sort of twist in the chorus where she sings "I got the trigger but you hold the gun." Once again, the instrumental is super bare with just some acoustic guitar and piano in the background of the song. Over These Hills on the other hand shows Hayley thinking about an old friend or a past significant other and once again, it's not in a positive way but the lyrics on this song don't quite stand out as much. Instrumentally, this song sort of reminds me of Keep On Lying by Tame Impala. It might just be because they use the same chords but that's the first song comparison I thought of. I really love the fuzzy guitar solo at the end of the song too, it adds a really nice resolution to the song. Good Grief has one of the most bittersweet hooks on the album where Hayley sings "There's no such thing as good grief." The rest of the song, some fans speculate, is about Paramore's guitarist Taylor York and there's a few lines here where I can see that being plausible, the most obvious being "I put all my demons on display to your pretty music." There's not a whole lot that stands out about this song besides some beautiful vocal layers and a few good lines here and there.
The song Wait On is about just that, waiting on someone who will likely never come into your life. I really like the string swells that pop up throughout the second chorus and I also really love Hayley's third verse on here where she sings:
There was a bird who never flew
But she still kept all of her feathers
So she could pluck 'em out for you
And you could wear them in your hair and
She'd be with you
There's a brief interlude with KYRH before we start the second half of the album with Inordinary with Hayley looking back on her career and life up until this point. She details her and her mom leaving town when Hayley was in 7th grade to meeting up with her now Paramore bandmates. It's a really heartfelt song and Hayley really opens herself up on this one. HYD has a hilarious intro where Hayley is outside recording herself just getting some ideas down. While she sings a plane flies by and she just bluntly goes, "are you f*cking kidding me?" Hayley is singing from the perspective of her mom on the song and I like the sentiment of the song where there's someone who you didn't match well with but late at night, you just lay there like "I wonder how that person is doing?" The instrumental on the song is super tense and fits with the tone of the lyrics incredibly well. No Use I Just Do is one of the few songs on here I would call a skip just because of how lazy the lyrics are. 2/3 of the song is Hayley singing the phrase "It's no use I just love you" over some piano chords and a great string arrangement. I'm also not a huge fan of the effect on her voice for the last half of the song, it just feels out of place to me.
The album ends on a somewhat strong note even if I do think it could've bowed out so much better. Find Me Here is a song that's been reworked for this album but not drastically. Just a new mix and the chorus gets repeated one more time. I love the dueling vocal harmonies on the song and the chorus on here actually is pretty sweet with Hayley singing about how as long as this person loves her, they'll never be alone and how should they ever come back home, they'll find Hayley there waiting. The title track is an instrumental piano piece with Hayley sort of humming over the top. There's also some little guitar and string snippets that pop up here and there that add some nice ambiance. Then the closing track, Just A Lover, I mean, where am I supposed to begin? Hayley's performance on this song is likely her best vocal performance on the entire album especially on the second verse which is insane by the way. The first time I heard this song, the second verse sent my soul into orbit and I still don't think it's come down yet. There's a huge explosion of vocal harmonies, some crunchy guitars, and a huge distorted sub bassline. The lyrics on it show Hayley once again looking back at Paramore and singing about how she, Taylor, and drummer Zac Farro would make mixtapes and with bands they loved and how she really didn't want to wreck this. There are also some lines on the second verse where Hayley sings about the time she almost quit the band, singing "I'll be singing into empty glasses / No more music for the masses." It is a beautiful finish to the album.
At the end of the day, I don't think I can confidently put this above Petals For Armor but if this shows anything, it's that Hayley's pen game is still unmatched. It's also extremely commendable that she could switch up styles so quickly yet still kill it. While I do have my problems with the album, mainly how drab and bare a lot of the instrumentals are, Hayley's lyrics and her performances really carry this album and pull it from being boring to being quite enjoyable. Now please! Can we get a new Paramore album now Hayley?
I would rate
FLOWERS for VASES/descansos
By Hayley Williams
This album is available to stream wherever you get your music, there is no word on a physical release yet but I really hope it comes soon.
Here we are, kicking off February with the long-awaited 10th studio album from alt-rock legends Foo Fighters and I've been looking forward to this one for a little while. Foo Fighters have been one of my favorite rock bands for a long while, ever since I saw them perform Everlong on David Letterman's Final Show. They've been dominating rock charts for their entire career and while they do get some flack for being sort of average or bland, when they drop a banger, it's a banger. For those who have never listened to or don't know Foo Fighters, they're a Seattle band fronted by the legendary Dave Grohl. Drummer for Nirvana and all-around badass human being. The band formed in 1994 after the passing of Kurt Cobian and Nirvana's dissolution. Dave went into a studio in Washington and recorded 15 of 40 songs he had written which led to Foo Fighters' self-titled album in 1995 where Grohl recorded every instrument and sang every vocal on the album. Since then the band has gone on win 12 Grammys and, as I said earlier, have been dominating rock charts with hits like Learn To Fly, My Hero, and Times Like These.
Dave Grohl performing with Foo Fighters at Rock In Rio 2019.
The band had a rocky past decade as far as output. They started it off in 2011 with the incredible album Wasting Light. The album was recorded entirely in Dave's garage and the subsequent documentary about the bands' career and the album recording, Back & Forth showed that they weren't in the studio beating themselves up over making something amazing, they were just hanging out at Dave's house making some songs. I still consider this to be their best album. Their best riffs, some of Dave's best writing, and it still gets better every time I listen to it again. The songs on here range from fast and speedy ragers like the opener Bridge Burning and White Limo, to more mid-tempo songs that are made to be played to 50,000 people at a festival like These Days and Arlandria to my personal favorite song on here Rope with its super punctual groove and fantastic drumming from Taylor Hawkins. In 2014 we got Sonic Highways, the soundtrack to a Foo Fighters HBO show of the same name which seemed like a cool concept. The band would record 8 different songs in 8 different cities with the city they were recording in inspiring the song. But when it finally came to fruition, it was a bit of a mess because it didn't feel like they were letting the cities inspire the episode. Rather someone in the band would start something cool and Dave would come in and pretty much say "Yeah that's cool but it doesn't sound like a Foo Fighters song." The album has its moments but other times it just falls flat on its face. Luckily, they had some redemption with Concrete and Gold released in 2017 and even though that album has some misses too, it was still a solid project to end the decade on. Songs like Run and La Dee Da still power me through workouts.
Foo Fighters in a promotional image for the new album, Medicine at Midnight. (From L to R: Pat Smear, Taylor Hawkins, Dave Grohl, Rami Jaffee, Nate Mendel, Chris Shifflet)
So that brings us to 2021 and though the album was complete in February of 2020, well, you know. The band decided to shelve the album until the band knew for sure what was going on with the COVID situation. The album was recorded in a Haunted Mansion in California and Grohl stated that after recording sessions, they would return the next day to find detuned instruments or settings on the mixing board changed. He even said that they found "unexplainable footage" on video but won't be able to release it since they signed an NDA with the homeowner. But I've been curious to hear this album after he described it as the band's "Saturday night party album," likening it to Let's Dance by David Bowie. And upon first listen, that's the only apt description that Dave gave us during the promo cycle. Usually, Dave likes to oversell albums before they're released but when it comes out, you find out he's only about 20% right but 100% marketing genius. He also said that this album was super weird and of course, saying it was unlike anything the Foo Fighters had ever done before, but, it is fun, and it does feel like a Saturday night at a concert so I guess he was right about that.
The teaser tracks to this album were kind of a mixed bag style-wise. I'm still not 100% sure if I like the lead single Shame Shame or not. I do like the string-backed choruses and the big choir refrain but the track sort of becomes predictable after the first chorus, mainly because the same drum beat loops over and over for the entire song with no change at all. I don't know, it just doesn't feel like a Foo Fighters song to me so maybe Dave was right about some of this stuff being unlike anything they've done before. No Son Of Mine was a lot better as it didn't have to take to warm up on me, I loved it from first listen. The riff on this song and the energy are fantastic. I really wish there wasn't a choir in the background for this though. They feel out of place and honestly kind of funny. Then there was Waiting on a War which lyrically is amazing, it's a song about how his whole childhood, Dave was scared for the day war would break out, scared of the day the sky would fall, he recalled that in Fall 2019 while he was driving his daughter to school, she asked him "Is there going to be a war?" He wrote the song the same day and I love the lines in the chorus pretty much just asking, "Is there more to life than waiting for a war to happen?" I also love how the song is structured with Dave playing pretty much solo for the first half of the song before the band comes and starts building up to an epic finish around the 3:10 mark, the tempo also picks up and the song ends almost with punk energy behind it. So going into this album I had that "Saturday night party" theme in the back of my mind and I knew not to have my expectations sky high and as I sort of mentioned before, that description of the album is pretty spot on.
The album is only 9 songs long and only clocks in at 36 minutes and, you know what, I won't beat around the bush, it's hit or miss. When it hits, it really hits, but when it misses, it just makes me sort of scratch my head and wonder what was going through Dave's head. I will say though, the production, once again handled by Greg Kurstin, is still great. Whatever sort of kinks there were in the Concrete and Gold production were worked out and this sounds like he's a little more comfortable in this position. I don't really blame him though as the only other rock music he'd really produced before this was for Foster the People and The Shins. There's also a lot of different influences that I'm picking up, I catch whiffs of ZZ Top, The Cure, even a little bit of Arctic Monkeys on the title track. It might just be me but I can picture Alex Turner singing this song, it feels like something that could've been on Humbug or AM.
The album opens up with Making a Fire which I think sets the tone for the album well. There's a great drum groove and the chorus is pretty catchy. I also love the guitar textures on here and the licks on the pre-chorus are pretty sweet too. Lyrically, the song isn't anything to write home and the background singers once again feel out of place. Cloudspotter is one of my favorite non-single tracks on here with some really interesting production and great arrangement. The verses have Dave singing in a lower register and harmonizing with a female singer. There's also some cowbells and other percussion clanking around in the background. The chorus on this song rips and Dave's screaming on it fits perfectly. I also love the little guitar breakdown before the final chorus. This is one of the few songs I can't wait to hear live whenever shows return.
The title track is probably the farthest the band strays from their roots on this album. I know I compared this song to Arctic Monkeys but while I was writing this review, I also realized how similar it sounds to Rain and the Radio by Randy Rogers Band, which I know is a super random comparison and I know that Dave Grohl probably doesn't know or care who Randy Rogers is enough to rip off one of his songs but it's the easiest comparison I can make of the two. That aside, I think the song is decent at best. The chorus is straight David Bowie. It's just so grand in presentation and Dave's voice is just soaring over this instrumental. This is one of the few instances where I think the background singers actually contribute positively to a song here as the harmonies in the background are beautiful. I also really love the guitar solo on this song, it almost feels like something from a Stevie Ray Vaughn song, just really bluesy. However, I really think Dave's hushed voice during the verses and pre-chorus doesn't really pan out that well. I also don't really like the effect on his voice in the chorus and second verse that almost makes it sound like he's at one end of a hallway and the microphone is at the other end, the image of that in my head just cracks me up, I'm sorry.
The last three songs on this album are pretty shaky in terms of quality. Holding Poison is the closest thing we get to something from Wasting Light on this album. I really love the guitar riff on the song and the chorus and pre-chorus on here absolutely slap. Somewhere around the 3-minute mark, the song takes a detour into this amazing bridge/breakdown section with a headbanging riff and the choir pulling my soul into orbit. The song goes back to the normal chorus one more time but the energy still remains super high and this song is going to be insane to hear live. But there's immediate whiplash with the next song Chasing Birds. It honestly feels like running into a window that you didn't know was a window. Just going and going then BOOM! You're on your ass and your head hurts. It goes from super heavy, headbanging rock riffs to a super slow, subdued ballad. And maybe if this song was placed somewhere else on the album, I would have more praise for it but it just gets super stale super fast. I just don't think the song has any redeeming qualities besides the one line in the chorus where Dave sings "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." And when the song finally does get interesting, it's over. The closing song Love Dies Young is a semi-strong finish but I can't help the fact that given less distortion, this could either be a song by The Killers or The Cure. The bassline on this song just screams The Head on the Door-era Cure and some of the wailing guitar lick that shows up after the chorus sounds like it could've been on The Killers Day & Age. The chorus on this song almost feels wasted with the majority of it being Dave just screaming "LOVE DIES YOOOOOOOUUUUUUUuuuuuuuung!!" Really thought-provoking stuff.
So all in all, it's just a standard Foo Fighters album. It's good for one or two songs that will destroy arenas and stadiums and festival grounds but there's nothing really interesting or groundbreaking on here that makes this standout in their catalog. There's a review I read before this album dropped with the title being "MUSIC FOR BATHROOM BREAKS AT THEIR GIGS" and while I don't want to be that harsh in this review, I mean, are they really wrong? It's a solid album and I think there are a few great songs scattered throughout it but I don't think it'll be able to hold its own weight against Wasting Light or any of their 90s albums.
I would rate:
Medicine at Midnight
By Foo Fighters
This album is available anywhere you consume music. I highly recommend visiting your local record store and picking up a CD or Indie-Exclusive Blue Colored Vinyl. If you can't get to one, you can buy one online HERE.