For most of my life, The Argument has been my favorite Fugazi album. And while that position has been threatened as I trudge deeper into their catalogue (I’m looking at you, Kill Taker), The Argument remains their most singular and refined statement.
Here, Fugazi spends most of their time restraining themselves within quieter, midtempo jams that, even when they do burst into chaos, don’t reach the same levels of unbridled fury that their earlier albums did. Strangelight, one of their most restrained tracks in their catalogue, has an explosive end section that finds them adding a piano player and cellist to their number.
From anyone else in the hardcore punk world, this sort of behavior would be intolerable, accompanied by cries of “sell outs!” and “posers!” and “has-beens!” (even though there’s still plenty of angry songs here–”Epic Problem,” “Oh,” “Ex-Spectator,” “Full Disclosure”).
But nobody calls Fugazi posers and gets away with it. And The Argument doesn’t leave any room for them to get away with that kind of foolish talk. Even when they break out the multi-track recorder, acoustic guitars, handclaps and synthesizers for the unmatched punk opera “Nightshop” (which, you probably need to listen to now so you’re not completely misled by my discription), all of the punkers uncross their cynical arms to applaud.
Because this isn’t Blink-182 we’re talking about, or even Sunny Day Real Estate. This is mother freaking Fugazi, and they don’t have time for your petty nonsense. So when they grow up and slow down their riffs, it’s not because they’re too old or too washed out. It’s because they’ve got something important to say, so you better shut up and listen.
Additional note: a number of albums I first got in high school are irreversibly tied in my memory to video games I’d play with them on repeat. So forever, The Argument reminds me of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
*that is, since 2002 when I first heard Fugazi at the age of 15, eleven years ago.