Legendary Washington, D.C. post-hardcore act Fugazi has been on an indefinite hiatus for nearly 20 years. But the debut LP from super-trio Coriky, which features Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye and Joe Lally alongside the Warmers’ Amy Farina, will forever exist in the presence, not the absence, of its most prominent forebears. That’s a damn shame. Though Coriky does borrow elements from Fugazi and the Evens, the MacKaye/Farina duo whose last LP came out in 2012, the group also stands as an amazing accomplishment in its own right.
For those who follow MacKaye, the terrain is somehow both refreshing and familiar. The first verse of excellent opener “Clean Kill,” with fluid scales, sing-speak delivery and Farina clacking drumsticks on the side of the snare Brendan Canty-style will make anyone who cut their post-hardcore milk-teeth on Fugazi in the early ‘90s crack a smile. Any record that reminds you of home without toying with photostatic nostalgia has got something going for it. But, for all Fugazi’s aggressive angularities and wonderfully bombastic dynamics, Coriky’s self-titled outing, released by MacKaye’s Dischord Records, is surprisingly subdued. The muted lurch of “Last Thing,” where the trio laments “Last thing/ We ever wanted was a war/ But we found it much too easy” in sweet communal harmony, is more prevalent than the jagged edges of “Shedileebop,” which borrows its rhythmic phrasings from Fugazi’s The Argument. And that’s a good thing; it gives the disc a freshness, an unexpectedness even, a sense that you’re never quite sure what’s lurking around the next bend.
The best songs, of course, traffic in formulas around which longtime Fugazi or Evens fans will feel comfortable wrapping their arms and their ears. “Hard to Explain” offers that classic MacKaye delivery, with blurted out refrains toeing the line between speaking and yelling. (“You found a purpose/ That’s good for you/ You found a leader and a politic too,” MacKaye spits out, in his first LP in the Era of Trump. “Say you got the answer, I don’t agree/ You get no answer when you’re cornering me.”) On “BQM,” Lally’s almost pseudo-bluesy scale notes accent Farina’s off-time hits perfectly. Lyrically, too, the band is quick to straddle the divide between the personal and political, with songs like “Clean Kill” (which offers the screen operators behind drone-strike assassinations some Macbeth-style connotations) balancing out the less in-your-face (and rather impressive) “Have a Cup of Tea.”
The LP is recorded with a clear ear toward the band’s live sound; those shapes clearly were massaged, as the band formed in 2015 and didn’t play live until 2018. Here, as usual, the credit goes to longtime MacKaye-collaborating engineer Don Zientara of Inner Ear Studios. One can only wonder if Zientara listened to the propulsive “Too Many Husbands,” one of the few instances on the LP MacKaye employs distortion, and imagined a mix of End Hits chemistry and the Evens’ sense of melodicism. On the bridge, it’s one of the few places on the record where it sounds like Lally is breaking a sweat.
The protest gem “Inauguration Day” does not drop reference to crowd sizes—#FAKENEWS!—but does use tangled knots of guitar and bass to illustrate its underlying sense of disdain for the Powers That Be. And listeners go right from that piece, one of the record’s best, to the closer, “Woulda Coulda,” whose mellow rubberiness flirts with the dub influences that initially separated Fugazi from its own roots. It’s a nice close to an interesting LP that, yeah, is fully cocked with expectations—a fully formed but still low-boil reprise of the possibilities the self-titled outing presents. Yes, these guys owe some debts to the bands that paved the way for their latest project. (With someone as iconic as MacKaye involved, that goes without saying.) But they sure as hell ain’t resting on laurels. Though often tame by Dischord standards, Coriky is ready to fight the good fight with its own musical fist pushed high in the air. – Justin Vellucci, Spectrum Culturem June 29, 2020