Review: Foo Fighters’ ‘But Here We Are’ Is a Tempest of Grief, Loss, and Reckoning

Foo Fighters © Danny Clinch
Foo Fighters © Danny Clinch
An emotionally charged reckoning, Foo Fighters’ grief-fueled eleventh album ‘But Here We Are’ aches from the inside out as the rock band unleash their demons, search for meaning in the madness, and try to come to peace with their own inner turbulence.
Stream: ‘But Here We Are’ – Foo Fighters

Initially my review of Foo Fighters’ eleventh studio album was just going to be a bunch of unkempt expletives strung into a half-coherent sentence – an eruption of excitement, exhilaration, and exhaustion all at once. It felt fitting, but honestly these ten songs deserve better than that. Foo Fighters’ first release since drummer Taylor Hawkins’ death, But Here We Are (released June 2, 2023 via Roswell Records) is a heavy and heartfelt tribute to a lost friend: A record of mourning and grief, reckoning with life and death, presence and absence, the unrelenting pain of loss, and the natural laws that govern our tragically transient existence.

But Here We Are - Foo Fighters
But Here We Are – Foo Fighters

It’s an album that aches from the inside out, and one that – quite poignantly – sees Foo Fighters once more at the height of their game, albeit missing someone who, over the course of the past 25 years, served as the band’s beating heart. In addition to Hawkins’ untimely passing in March 2022, Grohl lost his mother, Virginia Grohl, later that same year.

Each of But Here We Are‘s ten songs fittingly sees Dave Grohl and co. searching for meaning in the madness and trying to come to peace with their own inner turbulence, all the while letting those tempestuous emotions run free through some of the band’s most explosive and provocative music in years.

Opening track “Rescued” sets the tone with fiery drumming and an emotionally charged chorus about redemption and revival (“We’re all free to some degree to dance under the lights, I’m just waiting to be rescued, bring me back to life“), but what’s most striking is Grohl’s achingly raw vocal performance: He holds nothing back as he balances control on one hand, and utter chaos on the other. The result is nothing short of pure, raging passion.

I had a vision of you, and just like that, I was left to live without it,” Grohl sings at the top of “The Glass,” one of quite a few album standouts. Whereas this is a more tender moment of upheaval, Foo Fighters often lean into the deep, unleashing themselves in feverish outpourings of cataclysmic sound – as exhibited by the album’s very next song, “Nothing At All,” where a frenzied Grohl roars, “Now that all the feeling is gone, everythin’ or nothin’ at all!

I’ve been meanin’ to tell you
I’ve been out of my head
Left my heart on your doorstep
Left you out of my bed
Maybe I’m delusional
Is that so unusual?
Didn’t mean to offend you
Was it somethin’ I said?
Put me into your locket
And pulled me off of the ledge
Maybe I’m insatiable
I’m feelin’ so sensational
I’ll get by or maybe I won’t
I can lie and say that I don’t
Waste my time, lately, I know
It’s everythin’ or nothin’ at all

But Here We Are is a tempest, and like any good storm, its final moments are some of its best. The ten-minute epic “The Teacher” is a melancholic, soul-stirring homage to Grohl’s mother, who herself was a teacher (and, as his mother, also served Grohl’s first teacher). The dynamic song ends with Grohl shouting a “Goodbye!” over and over again into the abyss.

Try and make good with the air that’s left
Countin’ every minute, livin’ breath by breath
By breath, by breath, by breath
By breath, by
Try and make good with the air that’s left
Countin’ every minute, livin’ breath by breath
By breath, by breath, by breath
By breath, by

But Here We Are comes to a breathtaking close on the half-acoustic, half-electric “Rest,” a hauntingly beautiful elegy to the recently departed. “Love and trust, life is just a game of luck, all this time’s scaping us, until our time is through,” Grohl sings in the song’s verse, finding a place of peace and assurance in a chorus that comes to be its own spiritual mantra: “Rest, you can rest now. Rest, you will be safe now.

Waking up, bottom of an empty cup
Laying in your favorite clothes chosen just for you
Make you laugh, maybe I could make you laugh
Books are fading, photographs, moments saved for you
Angel dust, turn to little papercuts
Close my eyes and feel your touch, holding onto you
Rest, you can rest now
Rest, you will be safe now
Rest, you can rest now
Rest, you will be safe now
Love and trust, life is just a game of luck
All this time’s scaping us, until our time is through

Foo Fighters’ eleventh album is neither safe nor easy, but in letting out their own demons and darker sides here, the legendary rock band have delivered a beacon of love, light, and life.

But Here We Are hurts because death is unavoidable, but it’s that intrinsic inevitability – our shared mortality – that makes this album so painful, so moving, and so goddamn beautiful.

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