My reviews of albums released by Fugazi below. See my Minor Threat reviews here.
1990: Repeater (9/10)
In 2009, I wrote the following:
I guess this is seminal. It’s okay. I find later post-hardcore (that I’ve heard) to be far more interesting. I can’t help but compare these guys to Minor Threat and they just pale.
Was I in a bad mood?
Though I feel like they would improve as songwriters this is a pretty seminal record, a record that helped define the sound of post-hardcore for the decade. (Well, really a sound of post-hardcore, but most post-hardcore bands of the 1990s imitated Fugazi, not the weirder bands.) Can we imagine At The Drive-In without this album? Or numerous other lesser bands?
My #3 album of 1990. Read my reviews of albums released in 1990.
1991: Steady Diet of Nothing (8/10)
It has been literally ages (a decade or more) since I heard Repeater but, from my poor memory, I think this is musically much more interesting. (Who knows if that’s true.) I can’t help but liking later records more, though; to my ears they hadn’t quite found that thing, whatever it is, that made them great. Most of the elements are here, but something is missing, and I can’t quite put my finger on it.
That’s not to say it’s just okay – it’s quite good and relatively diverse for the genre. I just feel like they improved later, in terms of both their sound and their songs.
1993: In on the Kill Taker (8/10)
This record makes the fifth Fugazi record I’ve heard and I’ve finally figured out that I like this period the best. I find their earliest records to be a little less musically interesting than this and Red Medicine. And though it’s been a very long time since I heard The Argument, I didn’t enjoy that at the time I heard it. (It’s really not fair to say that now, but when I was young I definitely did not like it.)
As with its sequel, In on the Kill Taker feels like the blueprint for all other ’90s post-hardcore (specifically At the Drive-In). Sure, other bands might have made more melodic and accessible versions of this, but Fugazi created the template.
I haven’t listened to any of their records recently enough but I will say that I feel like the set of songs may not be their best.
But they make up for it with their aggression and their aggressive weirdness, which feels amped up from their earlier records. (It’s instructive listening to this record after listening to straight-ahead punk from the same month. There’s just no comparison in which is more appealing to me.)
I think I likely would rank this behind Red Medicine if I listened to them all in a row, but I think this may be their second best record.
1995: Red Medicine (9/10)
Years ago, I gave Fugazi a try and got very confused. (Let’s say it was 15 years ago.) I believe it was Repeater I listened to. I got even more confused after I listened to Minor Threat. “Is this what’s come of Ian MacKaye?” I guess I thought, disappointed.
Years later I discovered At The Drive-In and wondered where they had been all my life. I discovered that I really did love Post Hardcore. And I convinced myself that Fugazi was Emo or, at the very least, the Sparta to the true heroes of Post Hardcore, whoever that may be.
So, um, I was wrong about that. Maybe I was in the wrong mood. Maybe I just wasn’t yet ready to listen to Fugazi. Maybe Repeater was the wrong record to try. (Haven’t re-listened to it yet.) But listening to this album is like hearing the missing link between Husker Du and ATDI. In fact, so much of what I credit ATDI for seems to be here in an incubator. I know the bands are from different scenes, but if Fugazi sounded like this before this record, and ATDI liked Fugazi, well it sure sounds like Fugazi was the impetus for what I used to think was the Post Hardcore band of the ’90s. (The relationship reminds me of Modest Mouse’s debt to the Pixies; it’s that strong.)
All of this is to say that record is awesome and I’m an idiot for ignoring this band for so long.
1998: End Hits (???)
I have never heard this one. Read my reviews of music from 1998.
1999: Instrument Soundtrack (???)
2001: The Argument (4*/10)
The first Fugazi album I ever listened to, when I associated it with my brother’s skate punk bands. I wrote the following very stupid comment in 2009:
So many of these songs sound like other bands, as if they’re picking and choosing (I hear Blur, for one). This whole thing is just blah.