But Here We Are

Roswell / RCA
rating icon 9 / 10

Track listing:

01. Rescued
02. Under You
03. Hearing Voices
04. But Here We Are
05. The Glass
06. Nothing At All
07. Show Me How
08. Beyond Me
09. The Teacher
10. Rest

With the sudden and heartbreaking loss of FOO FIGHTERS drummer Taylor Hawkins last year, many fans wondered if the band would even continue. Hawkins had been a key part of the FOOS since the late-1990s, when he first appeared on the group's 1999 release, "There Is Nothing Left to Lose".

While the FOOS will never be the same, they're moving forward. Veteran musician Josh Freese is now holding down drum duties with the band, and they're back with a new release, "But Here We Are".

"But Here We Are", which marks FOO FIGHTERS' 11th studio album, begins with the classic sounding "Rescued", which almost plays like "Times Like These" at the onset. It's that trademark mix of beautiful melodies with heavy guitars that is simply all FOO FIGHTERS.

As the album continues, FOO FIGHTERS cohere to their rock 'n' roll fundamentals with swelling guitars, singalong melodies, rich storytelling and powerful hooks. "Under You" and "Hearing Voices" are midtempo rockers with equal parts grace and rock assault. "The Glass" is a psychedelic jam about loving and losing, with Dave Grohl's vocals and harmonies really shining among an acoustic introduction and building chorus. With its complex songwriting and experimental vibe, "The Glass" is a standout.

As expected, Hawkins, in spirit, is a big part of "But Here We Are", as is Grohl's late mother, Virginia. Many of the songs seem to reference Hawkins and Virginia, including the heart-tugging "Show Me How", which features a guest vocal from Dave's daughter Violet. Another highlight is "The Teacher", perhaps the most commercial song on this release, with an uber-catchy melody and tear-jerking lyrics that pay tribute to Virginia.

Grohl gets weird (in a good way) on the album's closer, "Rest". The dynamic song starts with close-up, intimate vocals and around the 2:50 mark explodes into a fury of messy guitars and lo-fi noise. It's a quick and shocking ending to an album, making the listener curious for what's to come.

"But Here We Are" is a meaningful, triumphant and, at times, painful FOO FIGHTERS release, with the darkness coming from Hawkins's passing. Even with its strengths, it doesn't stand up to albums like "The Colour and The Shape" or "In Your Honor", but what does? More importantly, "But Here We Are" plays like an album from a band once again finding its identity after losing a key band member and doing it with elegance and integrity.

Author: Anne Erickson
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