What wasn’t necessarily expected amid all this is the sheer variation, vocally and musically, across the 10 songs. On the excellent title track it sometimes sounds like the words are burning holes in Dave’s oesophagus, while The Glass opts for a gorgeous melody to soothe. Show Me How sees Dave harmonise with his daughter Violet over a shoegazey backing, while the snaking guitar line of Hear Voices traces The Cure’s eerie footsteps before it starts soaring.
For the clearest evidence of their adventurous spirit, however, consult The Teacher. Clocking in at a sprawling 10 minutes, it feels like two different tracks fighting for supremacy as it switches moods from menacing to uplifting and back. Some of its lines detonate on impact, others leave you pondering them after many plays. The latter type comes as Dave sings, ‘Two cold stones on a riverbed, ripped and torn, cannot mend, old white candles on a dusty porch, one flame down, another born’. It’s a song you will keep falling deeper and deeper into. ‘You showed me how to grieve, but never showed me how to say goodbye,’ he observes as the song approaches its gargantuan conclusion. With one final pained goodbye uttered against a wash of noise, it sounds like your speakers are disintegrating. It’s hard to imagine a more powerful ending. Somehow, there is still something more moving to come.
The album ends with the haunting and haunted Rest, as Dave’s whispered vocals hover above a desolate acoustic guitar passage. Every intimate breath, every delicately enunciated word registers like a hammer. Possessed of the same nakedness as Nirvana’s classic Something In The Way, during the opening minutes it feels like Dave is playing it alone in his room and you’re overhearing something you shouldn’t be. From there things get louder, soon he’s repeating the word ‘rest’ like a mantra over bursts of distortion, before it eventually diffuses back into quietude. ‘Waking up, I had another dream of us, in the warm Virgina sun, there I will meet you’ he concludes. You wouldn’t want to meet the person who hasn’t lost control of their eyes by that point.
Back to that title: But Here We Are. What, then, is the “here” we finally arrive at? Foo Fighters was forged in tragedy. Here they have been re-forged. It has the character of both an ending and a new beginning. It’s a miracle not only that it was made, but also that it boasts the mesmeric lyrical and musical qualities it does. Somehow Dave Grohl found a way to wrap words around the enormity of his grief as he surrendered to his own impossible circumstances. There’s no way around the losses. But there are chords to be strung together and memories to be preserved. Out of the ‘nothing at all’ he contended with, something finally emerged. Each precious new song, an act of survival.
For fans of: Pearl Jam, Queens Of The Stone Age, Smashing Pumpkins
But Here We Are is released June 2 via Roswell