End Hits, unquestionably Fugazi’s most experimental album to date, finds the band writing songs like never before; full of crashing, distorted guitars that follow no distinct pattern yet remain accessible and brilliant, and songs about corporate evil and alienation. Unfortunately, they stumble a few times along the way.
Firstly, this record isn’t all experimental. “Place Position,” “Caustic Acrostic,” and “Guilford Falls” are standard Fugazi numbers (if you’ve been introduced to Red Medicine, that is): fairly fast post-punk with jazz-influenced drumming. There is a conscious effort to incorporate some electronic sounds, but overall, these songs are much like those from past releases.
It would seem almost impossible for a band’s fastest tune ever to be on their most experimental album, but that’s indeed the case with Fugazi. “Five Corporations” is an absolute monster of a song. I really don’t need to explain what it’s about, but here are some of the lyrics: “Check the math here/Check in ten years/Clusterfuck theory/Buy them up and shut them down/Then repeat in every town/Every town will be the same.” As always, no complaints about the lyrics.
Then there are the missteps.
“Floating Boy” is an atrocious, weird mess. Don’t get me wrong - these guys know how to jam, but there’s a difference between jamming and fucking around in the studio for the sake of fucking around in the studio. At almost six minutes long, it’s way too bloated, and does indeed float. “Pink Frosty” is another weird one. The music is low-key and scratchy, and Guy actually sounds bored as he mumbles through it. I guess you can say that it sounds like one of Joan Of Arc’s poor songs, which is pretty damn terrible when you consider the basement of Joan Of Arc’s repertoire.
For Fugazi’s standards, yes, this is a let-down. From the forty-seven minutes of its playtime, I feel as though roughly eight of them could have been cut off (a more concise “Floating Boy,” none of the minute-or-so of pointless doodling after the last song, and “Pink Frosty” being removed from the album altogether).
In the end, we’re left with an album that’s much like this very site's Scott Heisel: evenly measured in rage and sensitivity, well-worded and eclectic, but a bit too fat in some areas. Never ones to stagger for very long, MacKaye and Co. would recover their bearings and release The Argument three years later, which to this day stands as my personal favorite from the band.