In one of Foo Fighters’ greatest creations, “Times Like These,” Dave Grohl wrote about the band’s jagged and uncertain future. At its core is a message of acceptance, that our darkest moments can somehow be paired with grace, and the bad things that happen to us can give our lives meaning.
On But Here We Are, Foo Fighters’ eleventh album and their first after the 2022 death of Taylor Hawkins, Grohl is actively wrestling with this idea. Maybe it doesn’t matter that we learn to live and love again in the face of consuming pain. Maybe none of it matters.
Not only has the band been very publicly mourning the death of Hawkins, Grohl has been quietly mourning the death of his mother, Virgina Grohl, and while there has been no official announcement, But Here We Are arrives with a heartfelt dedication to both his bandmate and his mom. Throughout the album, Grohl ruminates on grief and the messages we tell ourselves — the storm will pass, nothing good lasts forever, everything we love will grow old — but none of it seems to stick.
So Grohl turns toward his bandmates and his family. He doesn’t have any answers or even any quotable nuggets of wisdom. He’s frequently mired in the trauma of’ death and the aftermath. The band doesn’t overcompensate with synths or dance beats or a trio of bluesy backing vocalists. They huddle close together and play, they play loudly, with anger and passion and confusion and desperation. It’s the best Foo Fighters album since the turn of the millennium.
Before Hawkins’ death, Foo Fighters were not quite running out of steam, but their overall creativity was stretching thin. 2017’s Concrete and Gold and 2021’s Medicine At Midnight found the band stuck in the middle, expanding their sound only in ways that still felt comfortable and safe, never really challenging what a Foo Fighters song could be. It was the sound of a band who knew that their dedicated fanbase wouldn’t bat an eye. They’d still sell out arenas and garner radio play, their legacy cemented and unchallenged.
Obviously, they’re now a different band. The stakes have changed, the mission altered. But Here We Are is partly a eulogy for those they’ve lost, but it’s also a reminder of this group’s potential. Many of the songs hearken back to Foo Fighters’ second and third albums, 1997’s The Colour and Shape and 1999’s There Is Nothing Left To Lose with sour, grungy guitar chords, more atmosphere in the production, and a tension between Grohl sounding deflated and impassioned.