With its righteous disdain for capitalism and the almighty dollar, Repeatersounds like an angrier American update of Gang of Four's Solid Gold, which had been made ten years earlier. Lines/slogans like "When I need something/I reach out and grab it," "You are not what you own," "I was caught with my hand in the till," and "Everything is greed" bear this out. Though not lacking any sense of conviction, Repeater honestly gets a little stifling.
It's not too difficult to see why the band was allegedly lacking a sense of humour at this stage. They could have been yelling about filing their taxes; the yelling begins to fade into a din after a while. The title makes sense, if only by mistake. But - and that's a big but - Repeater nearly matches the Fugazi and Margin Walker EPs with its musical invention and skill, spewing out another group of completely invigorating songs, which makes the subject matter and finger-pointing a little easier to swallow.
Few rhythm sections of the time had the great interplay of Joe Lally and Brendan Canty. Likewise, the guitar playing and interaction of Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto almost always get overlooked, thanks to all the other subjects brought up when the band is talked about. A guitar magazine even rated Repeater as one of the best guitar records of the '90s, and rightfully so. Anemic revs spiked by pig squeals (or is it a screeching train?) highlight the title track, one of the band's finest moments. (Don't miss MacKaye's vicious double-tracked vocals, either.)
As always, MacKaye and Picciotto's noise-terrorism-as-guitar-joust avoids flashiness, used as much as rhythm as punctuation device. Sharp, angular, jagged, and precise. Other gnarling highlights include the preachy "Styrofoam," the late-breaking "Sieve-Fisted Find," and the somewhat ironic "Merchandise," which skewers Mr. Business Owner by asking, "What could a businessman ever want more/Than to have us sucking in his store?" Plenty of fans had to suck in someone's store to get this record, after all.