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A Winning Argument

 

Fugazi: The Argument

Dischord, 2001

Rating: 4.0

 

 

Posted: October 31, 2001

By Laurence Station

Ah, Fugazi. Politically charged to the point of near self-parody, as passionate about its causes (which are legion) as its music. Champions of the $10 CD (I actually picked up The Argument for $8.99) and $5 live shows. In all things, as serious as a Dick Cheney heart attack.

It would be easy to take shots at this seminal DIY outfit, to find chinks in its overly anti-capitalistic armor. But such potshots would be missing the point, since one listen to Fugazi's latest work, The Argument, transcends the band's overtly left-wing political leanings, even when the lyrics refuse to let you forget where these guys are coming from. In its incredible musicianship and careful craftsmanship, The Argument also makes evident the immense care with which this quartet goes about the business of record making.

The album begins with the stellar backbone of drummer Brendan Canty and bassist Joe Lally providing a peerless rhythm section for guitarists Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto to play off of. Tracks like "Full Disclosure" and "Life and Limb" expertly showcase the interplay between the four musicians, the backbeat providing a rock-solid foundation from which the twin guitars take flight.

Yet it's the sixth track, "The Kill," that takes this work to places earlier Fugazi efforts have rarely gone. Rising out of a delicate, almost gauzy beat, the song feels as if it's exploring every corner of its considerable acoustical range. Following on the heels of this is the album's centerpiece, the brilliant "Strangelight," showcasing a patient, more focused Fugazi, willing to take greater chances with its sound, each member trusting their fellow bandmates' talents implicitly. Amy Domingues' work on cello blends seamlessly with that of the four principals. The result is one of the great tracks in a career filled with notable cuts.

Ultimately, The Argument succeeds on two distinct levels: First, it reaffirms Fugazi's standing as one of the top rock outfits working today. And second, whether you agree with the band's politics or not, it spells out the members' litany of concerns in a creative and, thankfully, not overly preachy way.

Solid work, gentlemen.

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 Ratings Key:
 5.0: A classic
 4.0-4.9: Stellar work
 3.0-3.9: Worthwhile effort
 2.0-2.9: Nothing special
 1.1-1.9: Pretty bad
 0.0-1.0: Total disaster

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