When not writing reviews, one of my other jobs includes inventorying supplies for a bar that's equipped with a massive stereo system in upscale Virginia-Highland. While blasting Fugazi's remastered reissue of Repeater very loudly, pondering whether it sounds any different from the original, I realized I hadn't turned off the club's outside speakers.
I rushed to see how angry the neighboring businesses were, but the standard fair of businessmen, jocks, SUVs and scowling MILFs in Spandex pushing baby strollers seemed unfazed by the disturbance. Just then, Ian MacKaye's seminal chant "you are not what you own" from the song "Merchandise" echoed across the street, resonating with greater significance than ever before.
When Repeater was released in 1990, the first Gulf War was raging, and the effects of mass materialism were leaving black marks on the environment. Songs like "Styrofoam" and "Greed" evoked the negative impact of excess, serving as a sign of the times.
Fifteen years later, when decades of clean air reform are being peeled back and wars are being waged for oil by a president of the same name, Repeater takes on a new significance. The sonic qualities of the reissue are vaguely improved, but it's the symbolic gesture of the reissue that gives it relevance.
The more things change, the more they stay the same, and Repeater sounds better now than ever.
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