If I had any doubts about how great Fugazi was, those were removed when I heard the title track on “Repeater.” The chorus is not remotely something you’d expect from anything resembling a punk band. And that rhythm section? Holy cow. This was a band that clearly knew what they had in Joe Lally and Brendan Canty, and they knew enough to stay out of their way.
“Merchandise” and “Blueprint” could be the best back-to-back tracks on any Fugazi album.
I got “Repeater” the summer of 1995, much of which I spent working two jobs. My mornings and afternoons were spent at a grocery store, my evenings were spent at a pizza place. While the pizza place was kind of cool and filled with other late teen/early 20s employees just looking to stay afloat and maybe afford some cheap beer, the grocery was one of a chain and felt very corporate.
I drove the delivery van for that grocery store. We had a bakery and there was a convenient store not far away that ordered fresh doughnuts every morning. Delivery was scheduled for 5:45AM (15 minutes before they opened). I woke up at 4:30AM for that job. There were days when I would work at that job until 2PM and then go to the job at the pizza place at 4PM, getting off work well after midnight. Thankfully, I managed to schedule shifts so that I never worked at the pizza place the night before I worked at the grocery store, although that certainly wasn’t the case at the start.
I listened to a lot of Fugazi that summer.
“Merchandise” became an anthem for me, the last song I would listen to before arriving at the grocery store.
For as much as I love “Merchandise,” though, “Blueprint” quickly became my favorite song on the album. Yet another song with an anti-capitalism theme, “Blueprint” was less raging against the system and more feeling beaten down by the system. To this day, the ending gives me goosebumps.
And let’s not forget the driving “Greed,” which is ostensibly just two parts, yet still works, or the triumphant “Styrofoam.” Is “Reprovisional” cheating a little bit? Maybe, but it’s a great example of how the band had evolved in just two albums. “Shut the Door” is a great follow-up to “Promises” from “13 Songs,” and is another step in the dynamic intensity Fugazi was quickly excelling at.
“Repeater” (the album) is also noteworthy because it’s the beginning of the duel guitar formation that would stick with them over the rest of their career. Guy Picciotto quickly become an excellent song writer, and I think his influence on Ian McKaye pushed them both forward as guitarists.
“Repeater” was a big step forward from “13 Songs.” As much as enjoyed that first album, it had a specific sound, a lot of palm muting and guttural vocals. But “Repeater” was Fugazi’s statement record. “13 Songs” felt like a demo. “Repeater” was Fugazi making themselves known.
After two albums, I was hooked and I was prepared for “Steady Diet of Nothing” to move Fugazi even further forward.