Foo Fighters
But Here We Are


3.7
great

Review

by Sunnyvale STAFF
May 31st, 2023 | 204 replies


Release Date: 06/02/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I’ve been hearing voices, none of them are you

There’s something fascinating about Foo Fighters’ place in the musical zeitgeist. After all, this is a band reliably churning out unremarkable (if decent) radio rock, with their best work almost exclusively decades in the past, that still manages to attract a substantial friendly audience even among the kind of hipsters and obscure genre aficionados who tend to predominate on the kind of websites frequented by music obsessives (hey, that kinda sounds like sputnikmusic.com). There are many reasons for this - Dave Grohl seems like a pretty cool guy, he still maintains some “cred” by association to Kurt Cobain, arguably the last true rock icon, even the band’s weaker material is at least “kinda good”, and 2011’s Wasting Light seemed to signal a sudden renaissance in the band’s flagging fortunes and bought the band more time for many, even if that improved level of quality faded away again as quickly as it arrived. Still, though, it’s kinda weird - after all those years, and all those middling records (especially recently), there’s still a crowd willing to jam Foo Fighters’ latest effort, from the type of people that wouldn’t give the time of day to another act with a similar profile.

Well, now, let me put all my cards on the table, then. I’ve thought about this subject a fair bit, because I am one of those people. Foo Fighters were a key band in the beginning of my exploration of the contemporary rock scene, after initially focusing only on “classic” artists from the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80’s. If I come back to them less, now, their early work is still pretty great, and The Colour And The Shape comes pretty close to classic status. And yeah, Dave Grohl seems like a pretty cool guy. All of this to say that, even after three albums in a row which have been tenuously “decent” at best, I’m still on the Foo Fighters train for another record, albeit sometimes wondering why.

Now, we finally get to But Here We Are. The album title is notably ambiguous. On the one hand, when assessed alongside a piece of artwork which appears to aim to be as nondescript as possible without being an entirely blank canvas, it seems like a throwaway phrase from a veteran band going through the motions: “well, it’s been a few years, better put out another record”. On the other hand, with Taylor Hawkins’ death last year, the title takes on a more poignant interpretation - an acknowledgement that one of the band’s longtime members is no longer with us, but that his bandmates are trying to continue their purpose by letting new music see the light of day.

Indeed, there’s no doubt that Hawkins’ death feels omnipresent even in the most cursory listen to But Here We Are. Foo Fighters’ lyrics have never been particularly complex, and nothing’s changed here in that regard. A song like “Under You” contains lines like “someone said I’ll never see you again”, almost cloyingly cliche but forgivable through coming across as equally heartfelt. At other times, though, the bluntness is highly effective, with the straightforward lyrics from “Hear Voices” quoted in the review summary feeling like a gut punch, while “The Teacher” unveils a series of rather compelling phrases - for example, “time won’t wait, the here and now will separate”. All this is to say that, while on previous albums, Foo Fighters’ output might best be seen as simple rock songs, with the lyrics as (mostly) forgettable additives, on But Here We Are they take on greater relative importance, without being particularly sophisticated. This album doesn’t exactly find a coherent mood, moving from outright sadness to defiance and back again, but it’s clearly best viewed through the lens of the grieving process, and there’s a certain visceral appeal to its tug at the heartstrings.

Outside of the broad theme of its narrative, But Here We Are is a bit challenging to summarize (although Grohl manning the kit for the whole tracklist is notable). It’s a release which gravitates towards the more bombastic side of the band’s sound, although this isn’t universally the case. The album certainly seems to operate on a bit grander scope than Foo Fighters’ recent efforts - if it doesn’t have a sprawling geography-based concept like the (very disappointing) Sonic Highways, it does have much more of an identity than the lifeless Concrete And Gold and a significantly larger runtime than the slight Medicine At Midnight. At forty-eight minutes in total, a majority of the tunes here are easily digestible, but it’s several of the longer songs which prove to be most distinguished. In particular, the closing duet of “The Teacher” (which is Foo Fighters’ lengthiest track ever) and “Rest” are immensely satisfying. They don’t signal a full departure from the band’s signature formula, being replete with a radio-rock sound and loud/quiet/loud dynamics, but the more adventurous structures manage to enliven the listening experience to an impressive degree. The rest of the record is a bit more of a mixed bag, with several standouts (like “The Glass”, a traditional Foo Fighters ballad, but a pretty one, and “Nothing At All”, a satisfyingly punchy rocker) balancing out weaker material like the title track, which seems to fall into the band’s regular tendency towards “listenable but forgettable” territory, or opener “Rescued”, which demonstrates that Grohl’s singing-meets-shouting is still as elemental as ever, but lacks sufficient hooks to really pull off its aspirations.

All told, But Here We Are feels like the sound of Foo Fighters getting up off the mat. The band did what they evidently felt they needed to do after Taylor Hawkins’ passing - to pour their energy into a creative project and blare a bunch of new tunes into the void. And, beyond that, they’ve managed to release their best album in over a decade (sadly, a less notable achievement than it sounds). While not reinventing the wheel, and still struggling with occasional blandness, there are plenty of moments here which simply provoke more excitement and emotion than I’ve felt from Foo Fighters’ music for a while - that aforementioned and touching line in “Hear Voices”, the guitar solo in “Beyond Me”, basically everything for all ten-plus minutes of “The Teacher”, and the affecting fadeout of “Rest” which ends the album: “In the warm Virginia sun, there I will meet you”. While it’s been a long road for Foo Fighters to get to this point, and this album doesn’t quite match up to their most distant triumphs, these aging rockers have demonstrated here that some fire in the belly remains.



Recent reviews by this author
whyohwhy BruisesReal Estate Daniel
Grandaddy Blu WavManu Delago Snow From Yesterday
Cave Sermon Divine LaughterLitosth Cesariana
user ratings (280)
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
SaiseiTunes (4)
"Try and make good with the air that's left, counting every minute, living breath by breath"...

Kyle1221 (3.5)
But Here We Are is going to deliver the best Foo Fighters to fans who have given them their loyalty,...

ghostalgeist (3)
You must release what you hold dear....



Comments:Add a Comment 
Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
May 31st 2023


5637 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Album is out this Friday, Jun 2nd.



I like this much better than expected, but I’m not sure it will change too many people’s minds. If you gave up on Foo Fighters albums ago, not sure this will reinvigorate your love for them, but if you’re still hanging on and wondering when they finally generate some positive momentum instead of treading water, this record may do it for you.

porcupinetheater
May 31st 2023


10986 Comments


Is this the continuation of the Foo Fighters releasing one relatively well received album once every 12 years?

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
May 31st 2023


5637 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

LOL, yeah, that might be a trend

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
May 31st 2023


2406 Comments


Absolutely hated their last one but will give this a try. Good review!

StickFeit
May 31st 2023


2267 Comments


Like what I heard so far

Sowing
Moderator
May 31st 2023


43745 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yes, very good review. Wasting Light was an amazing renaissance for these guys but since then they've sorta lost it again. Will still be checking this out.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
May 31st 2023


5637 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Thanks folks! No guarantees, but I think you'll find something to like here.

William21
May 31st 2023


871 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Only heard the lead single Rescued so far, but that made it sound like they were just going back to their 2000's rock style again. Which would be a bit uninspired but still a step up from the last album so yay I guess?

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
June 1st 2023


47484 Comments


The Teacher is their best song in like two decades lmao. excited for this

veninblazer
June 1st 2023


16667 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm surprisingly excited. This should be good.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
June 1st 2023


5637 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

@William21, Rescued is one of the weaker tracks here in my opinion.



@Rowan, yeah, feels like a hot take to say it, but I'd agree that The Teacher is probably their individual song since at least In Your Honor.



Good to see at least a minor hype train growing for this, certainly an unexpected development at this point.

jamiecoughlan
June 1st 2023


100 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

These new songs are the best songs they've released since Wasting Light but am I the only one not enamoured with the production? Sounds to me like the drums thud and thump rather than pop and snap (and crackle presumably). Which is weird cos the drum sound on the last album was excellent even if the album was a bit crap and Greg Kurstin produced that one too. Also, let me clarify, I have no issue with the drum performance. As usual, Dave is a beast.

Sowing
Moderator
June 1st 2023


43745 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

My expectations for this are still pretty moderate, but hearing that it is their best since Wasting Light is very promising.

Manatea
Contributing Reviewer
June 1st 2023


1856 Comments


I was totally planning on skipping this album but it sounds like it’s worth a listen. Awesome review

KillingMoon
June 1st 2023


105 Comments


Yeah I thought Wasting Light would be their last "good" album...call me surprised.

babyboss
June 1st 2023


3 Comments


gang gang

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
June 1st 2023


47484 Comments


this might be better than wasting light lol, it's really good

Sowing
Moderator
June 1st 2023


43745 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Dang that's some praise

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
June 1st 2023


5637 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

It's early days, but I have this one more or less tied with Wasting Light (also a 3.7 for me).



It's important to note that I don't like Wasting Light as much as many seem to though (even though it's notably better than a bunch of Foo Fighters albums before and after). This one and Wasting Light are competing for fifth-best FF record in my book, behind the band's first three efforts and In Your Honor.

veninblazer
June 1st 2023


16667 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

In Your Honor's got some iconic stuff but way way way too much filler.



I am here for the psych-y 10 minute track tho that ones doing things to me.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2023 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy