[sic] Magazine

Repeater – Repeater

This was a surprise. Los Angeles act Repeater have built both credibility and loyal, cult following after two blisteringly intense albums of angst-rock. Having come to the attention of luminaries such as top producer Ross Robinson and (ahem) [sic] Magazine they landed the Editors album of the year in 2011. Meanwhile the cracks of strained band member relationships began to show. In the subsequent years main man Steve Krolikowski became the singer in KoЯn side project Fear And The Nervous System and Repeater recorded one final EP (Golden Ships) before fragmenting. However Krolikowski had never intended to retire the Repeater brand. This self titled album is the first fruit of an entirely new Repeater line-up and it marks something of a stylistic shift. Don’t expect the scorched post-punk anthems of We Walk From Safety. Repeater have moved on but from Safety to where, exactly? The answer is pure, undiluted pop.

Opening track ‘Lonely’ pulses and throbs like the best of the mid-eighties ‘sequins and sequencers’ brigade. It puts me in mind of Erasure or any of the Vince Clarke helmed acts of that time. Krolikowski even torch sings like an Alison Moyet or Andy Bell, (more on vocals in a moment). ‘Lonely’ epitomises the whole record. Yes it is light. That’s what pop is. We still find melancholy within the lyrical themes but this album is ‘heartbreaking’ rather than ‘gut wrenching’. Plus Steve has softened his singing voice. The trademark Krolikowski ‘acid bath’ rasp has been secured away in favour of a feminine coo. Tess Shapiro supplements vocal duties and the whole band combine to create possibly the chorus of the year. Yet ‘Lonely’ is far from the only earworm here. Repeater is littered with pop gems. ‘Work Things Out’ fizzes and sparkles like the Lightning Seeds on their A game. ‘Captive’ is more reminiscent of quality Scandinavian pop (Kent, Mew etc) and ‘Innocent’ dabbles in late 50s/early 60s jukebox rock n roll. The Repeater album is a veritable hit parade.

Taken in isolation, Repeater is a stunning success. Pop music has always been the perfect vessel for any songwriters message and Steve Krolikowski always has something to say. However longstanding Repeater followers will have to make their own leap of faith. That stylistic shift that I mentioned is more like a chasm. Imagine if Joy Division had followed up Unknown Pleasures with Technique. You’re getting close. Repeater version 2.0 have shifted straight from Joy Division to Pet Shop Boys via Electronic. You have been warned. Repeater is that radical but it works! Honest to goodness it works.

The closing pairing provides both vindication and hope. ‘Never Forget’ ranks alongside ‘Lonely’ as a potential radio smash and finally there’s ‘Uniform’, the albums closing track and crowning glory. This is the real Repeater right here. With its glossy new wave sensibilities ‘Uniform’ is closer in style to Golden Ships than anything else. Yet we’re looking forwards, not back. “Let me take off this uniform”, purrs Krolikowski in an obvious sideswipe against preconceptions. Much of the album shines a light on love and our pretences and selfishness when ‘in love’. However ‘Uniform’ could also be Steve’s riposte to those of us trying to paint the guy as some kind of tormented poet. Krolikowski says he made Repeater to indulge in a little pastiche. I think he made it simply because he could. Maybe he just wanted to be Barney instead of Ian Curtis this time around. Oh he can still do that dark stuff. Maybe he’ll do that next? Right now though let’s enjoy this sugar coated iceberg. But don’t eat it all at once folks. You’ll make yourselves hyperactive.

Official Webpage

Golden Ships

We Walk From Safety

2011 interview