Monday, June 11, 2018

Never mind the myth, here's the songs

Noting last December that there wasn't a Toppermost post on Fugazi, I commented: "If I was ever faced with the task of choosing ten Fugazi songs to write about, my dilemma would be which tracks from In On The Kill Taker to leave out". Fast forward six months and there is now such a post, courtesy of contributor Wayne Jessup, and, in cutting through the myth to focus firmly on Fugazi's musical output, he's managed to restrain himself to picking just one track from that album, the excellent 'Smallpox Champion' - though he does acknowledge the LP as "arguably their masterpiece".

The group's early days are well represented in the form of two tracks from each of 13 Songs and Repeater - including, inevitably but rightly, 'Waiting Room', "a master class in tension and release" that "would become a reliable paradigm for the band". Meanwhile, the passage on 'Closed Captioned' from End Hits underscores the vital importance of Joe Lally and Brendan Canty to the band's dynamic, something often overlooked in the focus on twin frontmen Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto.

It's nice to see that the selection ends with a pair of tracks from The Argument, the record that - given that they only seem inclined to break their hiatus for their own personal, private amusement - looks set to serve as their swansong. On the title track, which ends the album, Jessup is spot on: "Ominous and measured, MacKaye is singing softly and clearly, letting the bitterness simmer, and just when you expect all hell to break loose, it moves into a bridge reminiscent of a music box, before the guitars kick in, giving way to a coda of ferocity that was all they ever hoped to be, ending precisely on a clipped cymbal hit". Very few tracks convey a sense of finality quite so powerfully.

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