Review Summary: On Repeater, Fugazi embraced the socially conscious and non socially conscious aspects of their lyrics almost flawlessly, while continuing to expand their tight sound.
Merchandising is a key factor in "selling" music. Fans of a certain band naturally eat up any piece of merchandising that might celebrate their band. Not to sound preachy, but it often leads to the media manipulating not only the fans, but the band itself. Fugazi, however, do not abide to these manners of merchandising. They present their music bearing all of their emotion into it, whether it was social or personal. The music and attitude of the band was all anyone needed.
More than ever is this present than on Fugazi's first full length record, Repeater
. The almighty dollar is in the bands critical view, and they're not happy about it. Ian Mackaye's songs tend to be the most anthemic, to the point songs. On the heavy hitting, and self explanatory Merchandise
, Ian sings straight and to the point, When we have nothing left to give/There will be no reason for us to live/But when we have nothing left to lose/You will have nothing left to use
. His lyrics are extremely meaningful, but anthemic, and easy to understand. He might stay subtle, but he lets you know he's angry. On the track, Styrofoam
, he full heartedly singsscreams We are all bigots so full of hatredWe release our poisons like styrofoam
, knowing every word he says, as does the crowd.
Guy Piccotio, however uses metaphors to weave together his socially conscious lyrics. In songs like the fast paced, Sieve Fisted Find
, he sings Here comes another problem/All wrapped up in solution/It's ugly as it's strapped on/And twice as hard to get behind/Another sieve-fisted find
confidently; he, like Ian, knows what he's talking about.
But that's not to say the album is filled with Mersh-hating socially conscious anthems. In fact, despite being overshadowed by the before mentioned anthems, some of the most cathartic and all around strong songs are not Socially conscious and highly emotional, but still have the passion that the aforementioned songs behold. Guy's ballad, Two Beats Off
features crippling, highly metaphorical lyrics such as I cut my nails to the quick/But still I was caught with my hand in the till/Red-handed.
. The song's frequent time changes and breakdowns adds to the low-key, yet affective vocal performance. Ian also shows his emotional angst on possibly the most important song off this bunch, the cathartic and intense, Shut the Door
. The song is a tale of murder, and self reflecting fear, that takes that band to the next level. The song is bound together perfectly; Ian plays the song defining riff, while Guy plays simple notes to add to the tension before they both break into the single, and aggressive riff. The bass is low and keeps the beat going, as the drums go from low bass beats to ear-ringing pounds all in the same measure. Ian starts of singing the lyrics very low, almost whispering before screaming almost unintelligibly in the chorus. It's definitely the most cathartic and album defining track on the album.
Musically, the band is at a peak. On their first two Eps, Fugazi
and Margin Walker
(that would later become the compilation, 13 Songs
), the band constructed a tight, reggae influenced sound that was scoped out by Ian Mackaye's chunky guitar riffs, and the dynamic rhythm section of Joe Lally (bass) and Brendan Canty (drums). But since Guy Picciotio had not picked up the guitar for Fugazi at that point, the improvisation had not reached their focal point. For Repeater, however, Guy produces a sharp, angular guitar that coincides perfectly with Ian's chunky, rhythmic playing. As said before the rhythm section is introspective and beat driving, and it stays this way for Repeater. The drum work is much more aggressive, and energetic than it might have seemed on the early Eps, in order for the sometimes chaotic guitar work to not be left out of place. The bass is just as laid back and funky as it was, but uses more complex rhythms, which often goes hand in hand with the equally introspective guitar work that Guy lays down.
Like most of Fugazi's discography, Repeater
has aged gracefully over the years, both lyrically and musically. The songs are tightly constructed, but have the free, sometimes improvised measures that give the album it's touch. While the lyrics might seem preachy to some, they paint a relevant picture of a media worshiping society, and also brings forth a personal, and highly emotional landscape.