In some ways, End Hits is a cruelly slept-on masterpiece, an ode to the emotional entropy inherent in long-term punkhood. Musically, it’s a continuation of Red Medicine‘s innovations — obtuse structures and spiky, almost teetering rhythms abound. The music has traded fury for a quieter intensity.
The album’s also a good reminder that Fugazi songs are a bit like the cast of Doonesbury. They’ve been around so long and confronted so many issues that when something comes up, they have a song that applies, a song that likely hasn’t aged a day. The porous borders of the pro-immigration “Place Position” date from the mid ’90s and will be relevant roughly forever. “Five Corporations” assaults gentrification’s creepy-crawl; “Forman’s Dog” addresses the exploitation inherent in disaster and crime reportage. The destabilized revolution stays underground and away from prying eyes in “No Surprise.” (“No CIA/ No NSA/ Can map our veins,” whispers Guy Picciotto.) “With glue and string we try to stay together/ Despite the pain” murmurs MacKaye in “Pink Frosty,” a quietly rumbling song as moving as any he’s written, proof positive that a sustained, articulate punk rock can exist after the first couple of gray hairs. Long distance runners, indeed.