Look Back and Laugh
Out of Step
The music on Minor Threat's first two seven-inches was so exhilarating and self-contained that it seemed the band wouldn't be able to top itself. Thankfully, Minor Threat had enough juice left over to record one full-length album. This 1983 LP accomplishes a seemingly impossible trick in the field of hardcore: creating epic song structures without sacrificing the core musical rules of brevity, simplicity, and aggression. Even at this early stage, Minor Threat was well versed in dynamics, a skill that Ian MacKaye would further develop in Fugazi. “Betray,” “Think Again," and “Look Back and Laugh” are nothing short of heroic: carefully structured songs with well-defined parts, transitions, and little complexities. And yet the songs feel like definitive hardcore music. This was the absolute limit of what could be accomplished within 1983's hardcore idiom. To go further would be to change the formula, which MacKaye would soon do with Fugazi. While the momentousness of its initial context has long since passed, Out of Step retains its ripping effect. A lacerating treatise on morality, hypocrisy, and social identities, it's one of America’s most direct and unforgiving statements of youth.