This is not a Fugazi reunion. Sure, Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto may make guest appearances on their former bandmate’s latest solo album, Nothing is Underrated, but this is not a Fugazi reunion. This is Lally’s gig, and on his solo albums, the bass guitar is front and center. These are sparse compositions where bass, percussion, and voice all take precedence over guitar. Additionally, when there is guitar on Nothing is Underrated, it is often muted, understated, and resigned to the role of providing ambient noise.
In keeping with the open, airy arrangements on Nothing is Underrated, Lally’s lyrics often reflect an affinity for Eastern spiritual thought. After taking in the first two verses of “A Day Is Born: “A day is born without conception/Without form/Allows direction,” and “Between each breath /Mythology negated/A choiceless state/Nothing is underrated,” it’s clear that the album title is not a reference to everything being under valued, instead, it’s a statement that the peace that comes from nothingness is not valued enough. While the type of meditation Lally speaks of would ideally take place in a silent environment free of distraction, the calm, reflective tone of his bass, and his restrained, almost sedated vocal delivery, still have the desired effect of fostering quiet contemplation.
Personally, I’d love to see Fugazi get the old band back together. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one of my peers who didn’t get to see them play in a pizza parlor, bowling alley, or grocery store parking lot back in the day. Yet, after spending time with Nothing Is Underrated I’ve come to realize that the best part of this album is that it isn’t a reunion. Lally always seemed like the George to MacKaye’s John and Picciotto’s Paul, and with him taking the lead for once, you get a new appreciation of what he brought to the band with his inventive and agile rhythms.
Joe Lally – A Day Is Born [download]
Nothing is Underrated by Joe Lally is out now on Dischord Records.