Foo Fighters’ new album But Here We Are is a defiant, emotional roar in the face of loss

Album review: Foo Fighters’ new album But Here We Are is the sound of 15 months of pent-up emotion being unleashed at once

Foo Fighters: But Here We Are album cover
(Image: © Roswell/RCA)

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No one would have blamed Dave Grohl if he’d called time on the Foo Fighters last year. The sudden, shocking death of drummer Taylor Hawkins – a man Dave called “my best friend” – in March 2022 was the kind of body blow many people would struggle to recover from. The loss of the singer’s mother, Virginia, a few months later only compounded his personal agony.

Yet the fact that he’s elected to continue the band shouldn’t really be a surprise. The Foo Fighters themselves were partly Grohl’s attempt to find a light in the darkness of the aftermath of Nirvana bandmate Kurt Cobain’s death. But unlike the Foos’ bruised yet ultimately optimistic self-titled 1995 debut album, But Here We Are is 48 minutes of raw intensity.

It came in a flash / It came out of nowhere / It happened so fast / And then it was over,’ are the first words Grohl sings on propulsive opening song Rescued, his voice edged with hoarseness as a barrage of drums erupts out of nowhere. ‘Cathartic’ is an over-used word, but it really does sound like 15 months’ worth of pent-up emotions being uncorked at once.

Musically, But Here We Are is heavier and denser than anything the Foo Fighters have released in the last 25 years – not Probot heavy, but still a world away from Times Like These. Guitars buzz and rage like wasps in an upturned jam jar, bearing the clear imprint of Hüsker Dü, the cult 80s hardcore icons beloved by the singer. He plays drums on every track, hitting them as hard as he did back in the Nirvana days, each beat powered by grief, anger, hopelessness and defiance.

Of course, this is a Dave Grohl record. Despite everything, his unerring sense for massive melodies and huge tunes hasn’t deserted him. The title track is a shredded-throat roar of defiance designed to be hollered out in festival fields around the world. Under You is a stadium-ready anthem that could easily sit next to Monkeywrench or Best Of Me in the Foos live set, at least if you don’t listen to the lyrics. ‘There are times I need someone… There are times I just don’t know what to do,’ he sings like a man lost without a map in a world that doesn’t make sense any more.

Naturally, Taylor Hawkins and Virginia Grohl are all over But Here We Are. There are countless lump-in-the-throat moments. Show Me How is a gentle respite featuring a prominent vocal from Dave’s daughter Violet – less a duet, more the sound of a two people propping each other up in the wake of shared loss. Hardest going, emotionally, is the 10-minute The Teacher, inspired by his mum, herself a teacher. It finds the singer addressing Virginia directly. ‘You showed me how to breathe,’ he sings plaintively. ‘But never showed me how to say goodbye.’ Like the rest of the album, it’s full-on but never mawkish or depressing.

It’s impossible to separate But Here We Are from what has happened to Dave Grohl in the last 18 months, but then that’s the whole point of it. It’s an album he would have preferred to never have had to make, but here he is, trying to heal the pain in the only way he knows how: by screaming at the world and hoping it makes things a little better.

Dave Everley

Dave Everley has been writing about and occasionally humming along to music since the early 90s. During that time, he has been Deputy Editor on Kerrang! and Classic Rock, Associate Editor on Q magazine and staff writer/tea boy on Raw, not necessarily in that order. He has written for Metal Hammer, Louder, Prog, the Observer, Select, Mojo, the Evening Standard and the totally legendary Ultrakill. He is still waiting for Billy Gibbons to send him a bottle of hot sauce he was promised several years ago.