Given their status in the rock world, every Foo Fighters album feels like an event, but given the events of the past year, the stakes were raised even higher for the band’s somewhat surprise new release, But Here We Are.
The album was completed pretty much off the radar, something that’s hard to do when you’ve reached the stature of Foo Fighters, overshadowed by the death of drummer Taylor Hawkins last year and the eventual return to the stage of the band during two all-star tribute concerts in London and Los Angeles.
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Yes, Foo Fighters tipped us off at the beginning of the year that they would be continuing as a band in the aftermath of Hawkins’ death, with tour dates soon following, but the arrival of new music still came as a bit of a surprise when the single “Rescued” arrived this spring accompanied by the announcement of a new record. So as But Here We Are is now upon us, let’s share some of the things that make this one of the Foo’s best albums in quite some time.
Foo Fighters Find a Direction, One That Feels Fitting
It’s been well documented that Foo Fighters are mourning the death of drummer Taylor Hawkins, who died while the band was on tour in early 2022, but Dave Grohl also suffered the loss of his mother, Virginia Hanlon Grohl, later in the year. The impact of both deaths are felt all over this record, with both Taylor and Virginia even noted in the artwork dedications.
But this feels more focused than some of Foo Fighters recent releases, with themes of mortality, personal loss and finding ways to cope and move on felt throughout the record. Given that hefty emotional weight, the album is more somber as a whole, though also offers some uplifting and even dreamy moments of reflection not always found in Foos material. It’s not a full-on heavy rock record, but that’s okay as the tone is respectful and Grohl’s vocals and songwriting more vulnerable than they’ve ever been. It’s exactly what you’d want and hope for, helping the listeners, longtime Foo Fighters fans, come to terms with these big losses to the Foo family just like the band has done through music. — CC
Wait, Is That a Guitar Solo?
Foo Fighters aren’t exactly the first band you think of when it comes to guitar solos, even with three guitarists currently populating their lineup. But, in the midst of the late album standout “Beyond Me,” the addition of the guitar solo as Dave Grohl addresses coming to terms with mortality feels like the uplifting moment we all need. Rock on! — CC
It’s Not ALL About Taylor and Dave’s Mom
Yes, this is a record about personal loss, but not all of the songs are informed by the two major deaths in Dave Grohl’s life over the past year. “Under You” feels like a classic Foo Fighters song, and it’s more wrapped up in the aftermath of a deteriorated relationship. The title track also is more reflective of a period noting a loss of innocence. And “Nothing At All” is a full-on relationship song, rocking as hard as anything on the record with a fury reminiscent of the band’s early era breakout “I’ll Stick Around.” — CC
A Father / Daughter Gem
“Show Me How” was one of the songs previewed ahead of the album’s release, and it’s truly a family moment. While much of the song can be tied to Dave Grohl’s relationship with his mother, as the singer navigates the mid-tempo asking “Where are you now? / Who will show me how?,” it feels somewhat fitting and comforting that the track turns into a near duet with his daughter Violet, who has been singing backup with the Foos for a while now. Violet’s addition brings something extra to the song, with her vocal at times lifting over Dave’s and bringing an almost angelic feel to the track as the Foo frontman struggles to find a way to move forward. — CC
It Has Foo Fighters’ Best Hooks in Years
Dig your hooks in! Dave Grohl has long known how to craft a catchy rock song. But this album seems to revive the oomph in the Foos’ musical hooks — the part of a song most intended to capture the listener’s attention. This renewed pop sensibility could be spotted before the album even dropped in singles such as “Rescued” and even the lengthy but eminently catchy “The Teacher.” But when listening to the album in full, you’ll notice Grohl and co. appear to be putting the spotlight back on their catchiest songwriting. “Under You” is a perfect example. — PT
It Recalls Foo Fighters’ Early Material With Aplomb
There’s something about the freshness of this album that wakes your senses up, and it feels a lot like how early Foo Fighters material hit your eardrums back in, say, 1995 or 1997. Back in the day, even deep Foo cuts and B-sides such as “New Way Home” and “Winnebago” had a musical magic that was almost intangible but still altogether penetrating. When listening to new songs such as “Show Me How” and “The Glass,” that same feeling comes rushing back. — PT
It’s Succinct and to the Point
Foo Fighters were already leaning in this direction — 2021’s Medicine at Midnight was only nine tracks — but keeping But Here We Are to 10 songs was undoubtedly a wise choice (especially in the streaming era). It makes each tune feel that much more important, and it gives the album a lot of room to breathe. — PT
Dave Grohl on the Drums
Not that we have to say it, but Dave Grohl’s drumming here is impeccable. It’s great to hear the rocker back behind the kit for a full-length album. But it’s sad — inescapably sad — that Hawkins’ death is why Grohl’s back on the throne. — PT
A Tearful Conclusion
If there’s a song on the new album that brought us nearly to tears, it’s the album closer “Rest.” Starting with a solo guitar, it essentially is a track about Dave Grohl’s attempting to find connection with a recently passed loved one, descriptively noting in the opening lines, “Waking up / Bottom of an empty cup / Laying in your favorite clothes / chosen just for you.” This solemn and detailed account, picks up steam midway through with a jarring power chord that you can almost feel being the uplifting ascension of a soul after death. Fittingly, it all comes full circle, back with Grohl and his solo guitar and the heart wrenching closing lines, “Waking up / Had another dream of us / In the warm Virginia sun / I will meet you.” — CC
The Way Forward for Foo Fighters
Foo Fighters were founded to “represent the healing power of music and a continuation of life,” the band said in a statement after Hawkins died in 2022, recalling the group’s formation after the 1994 death of Kurt Cobain, Grohl’s late bandmate in Nirvana. But it was unclear exactly how Foo Fighters were “going to be a different band going forward,” as they said in that message.
Now, it’s coming into focus — it seems the Foos will perhaps be more of a “songwriting” act and less of a “rocking out” band in the studio, if this album is any indication. There’s almost no screaming or any metal-indebted rockers on this one (think “White Limo” or “The Colour and The Shape”). Instead, there are sublime anthems such as “Rest” and “Show Me How.” Maybe even with all the tragedy, Grohl has found some peace. — PT
READ MORE: Foo Fighters Joined by Taylor Hawkins Son Shane at Boston Calling 2023
That’s just our thoughts on the new album, but it’s time that you can check it out for yourself. Be sure to pick up But Here We Are right here. And you can catch Foo Fighters supporting the album on tour. Get your tickets here.
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