Released: 25th May 2018
The Messthetics is Joe Lally and Brendan Canty’s first venture together since Fugazi went on hiatus in 2003, after which Lally decamped to Italy for the better part of a decade, while Canty became an in-demand soundtrack composer, side player for Bob Mould, and frontman for the short-lived art-pop outfit Deathfix. But if their rhythmic repartee in the Messthetics is the same as it ever was, it serves as the foundation for a dramatically different construct than Fugazi. While Fugazi fearlessly embraced un-punk influences—dub, piano balladry, musique concrete—shredding was not one of them; they were so self-conscious about indulging in a little guitar noodling that they gave their song with lots of arpeggios the tongue-in-cheek title of “Arpeggiator.”
With the Messthetics, Lally and Canty defer to Anthony Pirog, a dexterous guitarist and a mainstay in the Washington D.C. avant-jazz scene, who’s given free rein to unleash his six-string splatter atop Lally and Canty’s propulsion. But lest that combination suggest a post-hardcore version of Surfing With the Alien, the album is more an instrumental power-trio record that values economy and emotional resonance over technical wizardry and structural complexity.