Titus Andronicus
The Monitor


4.5
superb

Review

by Kiran EMERITUS
March 2nd, 2010 | 2801 replies | 96,097 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "I've destroyed everything that wouldn't make me more like Bruce Springsteen"

Everything about The Airing of Grievances indicated to me that Titus Andronicus are supposed to be a terrible band. Their vocalist can’t sing, their musicianship is sloppy, and they always sound a tequila shot away from puking and passing out on your mum’s unreasonably expensive couch. Not to mention, they’re named after the most woefully violent play Shakespeare ever put his name to, of which even smarmy, toupeed scholars gawk as they polish their monocles. But The Airing of Grievances was brilliant; a breath of fresh air amongst the growing number of bands experimenting with a lo-fi aesthetic experiencing a revitalization. Enter The Monitor and with it dispel every doubt Titus Andronicus aren’t one of the best. For one thing, it’s only the bands second album and one of the most ambitious sophomore efforts in recent memory at that. Even from the bands own mouths, its absurdity is a little difficult to explain. It’s been touted as a concept record for the civil war, except anachronistic and with pop culture references to The Dark Knight and Curb Your Enthusiasm, amongst others. It’s about how “they’re all out to get us” but “maybe not”. Perhaps most fittingly, it’s about “trying to live decently in indecent times”. And that’s all before you get to the intimidating track listing, which includes a 14-minute closer and two 9-minute back-to-back centre pieces. You certainly can’t accuse these guys of shying away from a challenge.

The truth is The Monitor basks in its own self-hyped extravagance. Though everything about it just reeks of wild, exorbitant self-indulgence and complete disregard for what anyone thinks, that’s a huge portion of its charm. The very fact that a 14 minute closer from a no-frills punk band actually works, and with an energy that often seems unparalleled, is reason enough for a ‘holy ***’ to pass appropriately through the lips of any doubtful listener. It isn’t just the sign of a band coming into their own but of breaking every barrier they once had. This is Titus Andronicus clutching their balls and jumping straight into the deep end, with no Wendy the lifeguard to bail them out if they can’t quite hack it. Where The Airing of Grievances preached, The Monitor calls to arms.

A lot of this flair comes down to the image the band projects of themselves through their music, and particularly lead singer Patrick Stickles. He operates under a makeshift working mans existentialism, articulating bar-lit tales of failure and boozy self-loathing in a way that almost feels inspiring, betraying its subject matter to a point where you’re singing along to the “you will always be a loser!” gang vocals as if it's something to be celebrated. His cynical, strained shouts instill a sense of urgency, paranoia, as if his life and yours depend on what he’s saying, though underlined by an obvious inclination for the melodramatic. Stickles falls perfectly between the point of being too disenchanted to be content with a middle class existence and too carefree to be nihilistic. He’s sarcastic, he’s bitter, he’s angry, and he is, simply put, one of the finest purveyors of the modern, sordid, post-teen anthem, perhaps only outshined by the fanatical Jeff Rosenstock.

Yet for all of Stickles’ street corner philosophizing, there’s always a constant: the music chugs along, like a locomotive, reflecting on his sharp introspection with enthusiastic, galloping instrumentation. And at its finest, The Monitor is bustling and rowdy, brave and joyfully uproarious. “A Pot In Which To Piss” begins slow and slurred before shifting gears into a Springsteen-esque hair-in-the-wind E Street jam, though vacant of The Boss’ aged optimism (“You ain’t never been no virgin, kid / You’ve been ***ed from the start”). “Titus Andronicus Forever” is a 2-minute gang shout of “The enemy is everywhere!” and the reflective “Theme from Cheers” explodes with the rallying cry: “Give me a Guinness / Give me a keystone light / Give me a kegger / on a Friday night!” and it suggests exactly what Titus Andronicus excel at: peel away the layers and what you have here is a damn good time. These songs feel equally at home on a battlefield as they do in your buddy’s crazy, liquor-stained basement; sprawling tributes to artists like Bruce Springsteen and The Replacements that beg to be shouted and screamed far above the volume knob on the stereo will turn.

The basis on which everything really falls into place, where this becomes more than just a lo-fi punk album made by indie kids with a Springsteen fetish, is one that is sure to polarize opinions, particularly critical; it shoots for the gut. It’s an album that focuses so heavily on feeling and of hitting whatever connection it can with a listener, grabbing them by the scruff of the neck and pulling them into their world. You don’t feel a connection with Stickles but rather with everything he represents, everything he sings about, you’re shoulder to shoulder in a crowded room of everyone else going through the same problems, the same worries and when he cries: “It’s still us against them!” you know whose side you’re on. The aesthetic built off Stickles’ heightened sense of discontent isn’t one of overwhelming self-pity but rather acceptance, to make the most of what you have, and the music echoes those sentiments in its carefree extravagance. At the end of the day, The Monitor’s brashness pays off through the ambition, confidence, and talent of its visionaries. This is what punk rock is all about.



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user ratings (846)
Chart.
4.2
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Kiran
Emeritus
March 2nd 2010



6001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

www.myspace.com/titusandronicus but the tracks are out of order so try to listen to them in order because you basically have to

or just pre-order and get the full album on mp3 straight away

posting this now, even though its gonna get bumped the fuck down pretty fast, because i have like 5 minutes of free time in the next week and the stream just went up and ive had this written for weeks. shout out to yeti for proof-reading and being an excellent yes-man.









album rules

plane
Staff Reviewer
March 2nd 2010



6093 Comments


Brilliant review Kiran, your conclusion hammers the nail on the head. Makes me appreciate the album even more at that. This album was a huge surprise. I had liked Airing of Grievances but not too much, kind of forgot about it, but from first listen this has an irresistible sprawl. Hope others share our enthusiasm.

bungy
March 2nd 2010



8843 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice, can't wait to hear this.

MassiveAttack
March 2nd 2010



2688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

So Kirgasm...love this review, not familiar with the band. And I mean love as it one of the best I've seen in a few weeks.

Ponton
Emeritus
March 2nd 2010



5790 Comments


You seem to keep getting these best new music albums down pat. Awesome.

Phil
March 2nd 2010



1473 Comments


Looks damn fine. I'll have a proper look as I was suggested it. Very good review.

Shrapnel94
March 2nd 2010



2213 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Awesome review. I still need to listen to it enough to come up with a rating.

Jemidu06
March 2nd 2010



115 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

great review once again...the airing of grievances was very very good, and even though the concept album aspect of this made me a little apprehensive at first, i know i still need to check this out

thebhoy
Emeritus
March 2nd 2010



4459 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

excellent review... I avoided these guys's debut. Perhaps I should get this.

Kiran
Emeritus
March 2nd 2010



6001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thanks guys, worked real hard on this one

Hope others share our enthusiasm.

i really hope so as well! this struck a huge chord with me. gives me the same feeling that made me love 'wet hair', in fact the japandroids record in its entirety, so much last year; difficult to explain but its that 'go on, live a little' emotional prod that im a total sucker for.

You seem to keep getting these best new music albums down pat.

only the finest from me, jared

AggravatedYeti
March 2nd 2010



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

review sucks obv


btw everyone get this album.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
March 2nd 2010



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

album is so

fucking

good

Kiran
Emeritus
March 2nd 2010



6001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

so now when i drink im going to drink to excess and when i smoke i will smoke gaping holes in my chest and when i scream i will scream until im gasping for breath and when i get sick i will stay sick for the rest of my days peddling hate at the back of a chevy express, each one will fly in the face of your idea of success and if this be thy will then fuckin pass me the cup and im sorry dad no im not making this up

robin
Emeritus
March 2nd 2010



4248 Comments


i have this on ipod because of yeti but i still can't be bothered to listen to it for whatev reason. awesome stuff kirg.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
March 2nd 2010



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

listen to it faggot it'll make you a man

CompanionCube
March 2nd 2010



977 Comments


this is the perfect soundtrack for skateboarding

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
March 2nd 2010



15732 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

album's sheer unadulterated awesome

Digging: Alvvays - Alvvays

Tits McGee
March 2nd 2010



1876 Comments


Hmmm. I'll add this to my want list. Good review Kirg.

AggravatedYeti
March 2nd 2010



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Robin I still say you'll eat this up.

^^ and that's seriously the best part of the entire album Kir.


klap
Staff Reviewer
March 2nd 2010



10314 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

severe wood

so many 4.5s recently where to starttttttt

Digging: Literature - Chorus



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