You probably already know what dad rock is without knowing what dad rock is. The sound is a pervasive, ubiquitous cultural achievement that can only be rivaled by yacht rock, its older brother. You might know a dad or fatherly figure who unabashedly adores dad rock. By extension, you tolerate it.
Look, dad rock has its place in American music culture as a milestone for music that doesn’t want to challenge its listeners because it doesn’t need to. Dad rock implies comfort, guitar riffage that pays homage to all the dad rocker greats of yore, and maybe some Busch Light. Hard to take seriously from an objective standpoint, but so commercially profound that one can’t ignore it entirely, dad rock exists mostly in the musical ether to younger listeners like myself, your humble reviewer.
In high school, I was really into Foo Fighters. Due in part to my father, who looks practically identical to Dave Grohl, the focal point of the rock group, but with not as long hair and less musical charisma. Foo Fighters were always a band, even now, where I’d hear a song of theirs on the radio and rock out (usually with my dad). But they were hardly a band whose albums I desperately had to buy on CD.
Don’t get me wrong, Foo Fighters are a fun band; they really are.
But they’re not exactly an inspired band. Nor are Foo Fighters a band known for their knack of crafting well-constructed and carefully sequenced albums. Dave Grohl writes singles, not songs. Aside from two albums, spaced almost fifteen years apart, “The Colour and the Shape” and “Wasting Light,” Foo Fighters have never released albums that deserve to be listened to front-to-back. This holds true for their newest 2021 effort, “Medicine at Midnight,” which feels like an awkward response to Green Day’s downward spiral into meaningless arena rock music.
Though “Medicine at Midnight” is a summer album released during the winter, it is also as perfectly middling as any Foo Fighters fan or non-fan could ask for. Having run out of creative fuel a decade ago, Dave Grohl and co. excel at one thing: delivering sufficiently adequate, passably listenable rock songs. Their music is as inoffensive as dad rock gets. Does this mean “Medicine at Midnight” is the seminal Foo Fighters record?
Yes, absolutely—because nearly every Foo Fighters album is reflective of its predecessors, showcasing that Foo Fighters don’t need to experiment at being Foo Fighters. Is “Medicine at Midnight” a record to be remembered for the ages? Not in the slightest. In fact, I almost forgot which Foo Fighters album I was writing about as I was writing this review. Am I talking about “Concrete and Gold”? Or “Sonic Highways”? Does it matter? Learning that new Foo Fighters music is out in the world doesn’t seem to bear much significance; records like “Medicine at Midnight” aren’t going to score the band any followers who aren’t already passively devoted to their music.
One thing’s for sure, though: my dad is going to love this record.
Listen to “Medicine at Midnight” with your dad on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/1FyNZvJ6MHO01kl3ySMPdc?si=NYlGGTXfS4SezEVT4gAN0Q