The only official album Minor Threat ever released was a mere eight songs -- but that was enough. Building on the promise and fire of the band's earlier singles, Out of Step instantly became iconic for American hardcore, not to mention for the D.C. scene, for years to come, as well as any number of bands who conflated personal and social politics. That any number of restrained turn-of-the-century emo acts could refer to songs on Out of Step as much as fiery punk's-not-dead revivalists is demonstration enough of the record's impact. By this point the band had moved beyond the straightforward explosions of sound that characterized the earliest numbers. Songs like "Betray" and "Little Friend" contain sudden, heart-stopping pauses, with full-bodied production that's as much thrash metal as it is trebly punk squeal. Lyle Preslar and Brian Baker both have at the guitar this time through and do the instrument proud, creating memorable, snarling riffs that rip out of the speakers without apology. Jeff Nelson's drumming is equally powerful, but Ian MacKaye's outraged performance provides the real killer touch. Even if it requires the lyric sheet to catch what's being said in particular, there's less in the way of declarative statements of purpose and more expressions of looming worries, his conversational asides adding a touch of melancholy even at the most high-volume moments. Besides a re-recording of "Out of Step" from the In My Eyes EP, other high points include "Look Back and Laugh," an uneasy but ever-more-tightly wound confrontation with the reality of growing apart being entangled with growing up, and the powerful "Think Again." There's a secret highlight, though -- "Cashing In," appearing unlisted at the end and showing that MacKaye and company had a definite sense of humor, pokes fun at their own glowering image even while rocking out with aplomb (and including, of all things, a concluding burst of strings).
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett