But Here We Are
No band could ever prepare for what the Foo Fighters went through after the death of long-time drummer Taylor Hawkins in March 2022, but in a way, it’s hard to imagine a band that could handle it better. From the beginning, their music captured a sense of perseverance that felt superheroic without losing the workaday quality that made them so approachable and appealing. These were guys you could imagine clocking into the studio with lunchpails and thermoses in hand—a post-grunge AC/DC who grew into rock-pantheon standard-bearers, treating their art not as rarified personal expression but the potential for a universal good time. The mere existence of But Here We Are, arriving with relatively little fanfare a mere 15 months after Hawkins’ death, tells you what you need to know: Foo Fighters are a rock band, rock bands make records. That’s just what rock bands do. And while this steadiness has been key to Dave Grohl’s identity and longevity, there is a fire beneath it here that he surely would have preferred to find some other way. Grief presents here in every form—the shock of opening track “Rescued” (“Is this happening now?!”), the melancholy of “Show Me How” (on which Grohl duets with his daughter Violet), the anger of 10-minute centrepiece “The Teacher” and the fragile acceptance of the almost slowcore finale “Rest”. “Under You” processes all the stages in defiantly jubilant style. And after more than 20 years as one of the most polished arena-rock bands in the world, they play with a rawness that borders on ugly. Just listen to the discord of “The Teacher” or the frayed vocals of the title track or the sweet-and-sour chorus of “Nothing at All”, which sound more like Hüsker Dü or Fugazi than “Learn to Fly”. The temptation is to suggest that trauma forced them back to basics. The reality is that they sound like a band with a lot of life behind them trying to pave the road ahead.