Published Mar 19, 2018Fugazi have been on hiatus for nearly as long as they were around, but that hasn't stopped fans from living in hope of a reunion. It seemed like these prayers came a little closer to being answered earlier this year, when news broke that bassist Joe Lally and drummer Brendan Canty had reconvened to record with experimental guitarist Anthony Pirog. The collaboration, released under the name the Messthetics, exists on the same spectrum as the post-hardcore legends' work, one that encompasses both technical exploration and punk's bracing immediacy.
But the Messthetics aren't here to rehash the past. "Mythomania" may open with bursts of feedback that tonally echo Repeater opener "Turnover," but the trio quickly quell comparisons with their freeform, improv-influenced approach. Pirog is particularly versatile, shifting from choppy two- or three-note melodies to cascading solos at a moment's notice. In a genre where knotty time signatures and winding structures are common, "Serpent Tongue" stands out for its dextrous fretwork.
Too often, though, Pirog's guitar heroics overshadow his bandmates. Lally is particularly underserved — his dubby bass lines brought a welcome depth to many Fugazi tracks, but here, he's mostly left to hold down the fort as Pirog and Canty go exploring. Even the atmospheric "The Inner Ocean" wastes his talents on a composition that sounds like a college jazz band covering Mogwai's Young Team.
Despite their proficiency, the Messthetics' individual talents don't entirely gel as an ensemble yet. Their debut is flashy, but it won't bring them out of the shadow of Canty and Lally's more famous projects. (Dischord)