We’re back in Fugazi territory, and with every release I regret more and more not having this band in my life during my childhood. I was 17 when the band’s debut full length Repeater came out, and listening to it now 32 years later I can hear how the intensity, the immediacy of the songs would have taken a hold of me. True, I was listening to Minor Threat and getting my McKaye fix that way, but the space and use of sound as a punctuation rather than a melodic component is so addicting now…I assume I would have mainlined this like a fiend back in the day.
“Turnover” kick off the album in fitting fashion, Picciotto putting his vicious snarl on the lyrics. It’s a killer opener, but I fall even harder for the title track. Lally’s bass against the feedback of the guitar suddenly blasting off against a killer rhythm punctuated by the feedback. The whole tone changes with the chorus, McKaye’s clean guitar playing a very different song in a very different band, yet meshing perfectly. Brendan Canty is the star here: without his impeccable timing and choice fills this could easily fall apart.
It of course doesn’t.
Which again speaks to how much of a band Fugazi was (is? who knows what can happen…) “Brendan #1” shows just how well the band can gel musically without having to resort to their signature vocal bark. “Merchandise” shows the band can rock an ultra catchy hook when they want, and “Blueprint” slows things down for Picciotto to deliver his own vocal hook, intoning “I’m not playing with you” over and over.
Of course catchy hooks aren’t what the band is aiming for in Repeater, as lyrically the group addresses many of the problems they saw daily in their hometown of Washing, DC: the drugs and gun violence, and how these systems of greed, violence and oppression repeat themselves over and over and over. It brings another level to the urgency of something like “Sieve-Fisted Find” or “Greed” and a keener sense of focus to the dynamics of “Two Beats Off” which currently ties with “Repeater” as my favorite track on the album.
As Repeater wraps up with “Styrofoam”, “Reprovisional” and “Shut the Door” I’m left wanting more. Good thing I grabbed three more albums to tear through.