Following a year of devastating losses and a bittersweet remembrance and self-reflection, Foo Fighters have boldly returned with their eleventh studio album, But Here We Are. A brutally honest and emotionally raw tribute, speaking about the pain the band has endured in the recent months that followed the untimely loss of Taylor Hawkins back in 2022 and frontman Dave Grohl’s mother, Virginia.
The album is a 10-track collection that sees the band delve into grief. The album is full of twists and turns; however, it doesn’t just set up camp and linger on the dejected, sorrowful notes. Instead, it takes us on a ride through the stages of grief song by song. You’ll feel the anger, denial, depression, and everything that makes up that complicated rollercoaster of emotions. It starts with ‘Rescued’ and Grohl screaming, ‘It came in a flash / it came out of nowhere / It happened so fast / and then it was over’. A song that was indeed written with live shows in mind, an upbeat communal rock anthem to set the tone.
Following this is ‘Under You’, a song that would have sat comfortably on The Colour And The Shape. It’s raw, full of emotion and holds a youthful spring to it that showcases the Foo Fighters’ unmistakable trademark sound. It’s here Grohl delivers one of the most heartbreaking lines on the album – “Someone said I’ll never see your face again / part of me just can’t believe its true / pictures of us sharing songs and cigarettes / this is how ill always picture you”.
The album’s title track is an explosive riff-heavy piece, moulding together some expansive guitar, swelling to a chorus that’s guaranteed to get crowds of adoring fans chanting along with its hook. It brings the momentum on the album back up after a softer note was hit just before it on the gothic-sounding ‘Hearing Voices’.
A tender moment on the album comes on the reverb-heavy ‘Show Me How’. Here we find Dave Grohl being joined on vocals by his daughter Violet. She provides a haunting backdrop to the song, perfectly coupled with Dave’s vocals and laying a warm undertone to the frame. It’s a song that sounds like a marriage between the Foo Fighters and The Cure, with almost emo-style guitar licks during the verse expressing like Robert Smith was in the offering notes.
‘Beyond Me’ tip toes along next, opening with soft piano and swelling slowly to a crescendo of punchy, distorted electric guitars driving home the message of acceptance of things we can’t change. It’s a humble track done in ballad style, easy to sing along with and much like most of the album, one that will fit right at home in front of a sea of lighter flames (or phone screens).
‘The Teacher’ is one of the Foo Fighters’ most ambitious songs in recent years, clocking in at an epic 10 minutes long. It opens on a sad note, with Grohl sounding isolated, asking, “Hey kid, what’s the plan for tomorrow?” before the rest of the band storm in with a driving force. It’s a song we hear Grohl laying bare his darkest moments, melding heartache with defiance.
Finally, we get to ‘Rest’, opening with a gentle acoustic moment. It almost sounds like an early demo, like Grohl had set up a recorder to try something new in the studio on his own. It sounds vulnerable, an intimate stripped-back delicate piece that unexpectedly explodes into a fiery epic. Delivered with a compelling force, the band come in; distortion-heavy guitars fill the fragile acoustic backdrop and replace its melancholy mood with a warmer, more optimistic, uplifting vibe. It’s the band epically demonstrating their acceptance and closing out the album on a bittersweet note, with Grohl whispering as the guitars ring out, “Waking up, I had another dream of us / In the warm Virginia sun, there I will meet you”.
The simple yet poignant message, “For Virginia and Taylor”, is printed on the back of the cover. This is a love letter to two pillars of the band’s life. Two larger-than-life figures whose memory has inspired this powerful album. It’s packed to the brim with emotion. It will prove heart-breakingly relatable to anyone who’s ever suffered this kind of loss. Just like the stages of grief, it’s full of twists and turns. It explodes into angry defiance, settles into nostalgic acceptance, and unashamedly recognises and reflects on darker moments. At its core, however, is a celebration of the life these two figures lived and a nod to the healing powers that music can provide.