Foo Fighters Power Through Pain On One of Their Best Records Ever

“It came in a flash—it came outta nowhere,” Dave Grohl wails over heat-lightning guitars and pummeling drums at the outset of his band Foo Fighters’ 11th album. Then, he sings a line marked by equal parts amazement and regret: “It happened so fast/ and then it was over,” Grohl yawps, his voice breaking on the final word. This summation of life’s brevity and unpredictability is a fitting epigraph for But Here We Are, the first Foo Fighters record to be recorded in the wake of two losses Grohl experienced in 2022—the band’s longtime drummer Taylor Hawkins died while the band was touring South America last March, and Grohl’s mother Virginia passed away over the summer. 

But Here We Are, with its matter-of-fact title, depicts grief in immediate terms, refusing to couch the knotty web of feelings conjured by loss in easy-to-hear platitudes. “Someone said I’ll never see your face again/ Part of me just can’t believe it’s true,” Grohl whisper-sings on “Under You,” which whipsaws from brooding thickets of guitar into a psych-power-pop flashback, then veers into the sort of anthemic chorus that the Foo Fighters have filled stadiums and festival fields with for decades. Only it has a troubling edge: “I’ve been hearing voices,” he sings again and again, before breaking: “None of them are you,” he admits. 

Since forming in 1995, Foo Fighters have become one of rock’s most reliable acts, regularly releasing albums that brought the squalls of Nineties alt-rock into the new millennium while headlining massive venues with blistering live sets tempered by the sort of playfulness that can only come from being at the top of one’s game. But Here We Are flips the Foo Fighters script in a way, sorting through the fallout of what happens when things get completely unpredictable—when the people who have been threads in your day-to-day’s fabric get pulled out suddenly and cruelly. It possesses a vitality that in a sense is expected given the events that transpired before its release, but its refusal to take the easy route around grief makes its drum fills (played by Grohl in his first return behind the kit on a Foos album since 2005) land with more intensity and its guitar slashes, some of which recall Nineties left-of-the-dial darlings, hit harder. Even the more subdued tracks like the swirling “Show Me How,” which is leavened by Grohl’s daughter Violet’s lilt, have an urgency to them that makes But Here We Are an immersive listen. 

The last two tracks are particularly gripping. “The Teacher” is a 10-minute mini-epic that opens with gnarled riffs then steadily gains momentum into a determined perpetual-motion machine of galloping drums and ringing guitar chords, taking a breath to survey what’s been lost before launching itself back into heavy riffage, Grohl keening “goodbye” in a strangled voice as the music becomes more and more distorted, the levels maxing out on all levels. It stops abruptly and is, after a breath, followed by “Rest,” a beautiful elegy that crests into a soothing cacophony: “Rest, you can rest now/ Rest, you will be safe now,” Grohl bellows as the chaos once again threatens to overtake the speakers—until the noise cuts out, leaving Grohl alone with his grief and love, envisioning his dreamlife’s hopes for seeing his loved ones again. 


Dealing with loss has confounded philosophers and psychologists for eons. On But Here We Are, Grohl has laid out one way to deal with this complex matrix of emotion: You snarl and thrash and bang against whatever darkness may encroach upon you, drawing on the raw-nerve currents coursing through your veins to prove just how vital life can be.

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