More than anything, it begins to show what these four incredible musicians were truly capable of when they wrote as a single unit rather than individuals. The instrumental passages are more common here, and they’re more violent and nuanced.
Side one plays without a break between songs. The guitars use feedback and muted scratches to create the insatiably frustrated atmospheres while Brendan Canty and Joe Lally use the drums and bass as if they were their first language.
The voices are more commanding–Guy’s spits more venom, Ian turns from sarcastic to roaring without warning.
But Fugazi also shows more restraint here. “Two Beats Off” resists the obvious punk thrashing so many lesser bands would have committed. The chorus of the title track is rife with pop bounce and hook.
Overall, this album is remarkable for giving the world a debut full length more fully matured than most bands would ever achieve.
Edit: “Shut the Door” is incredible.