Review Summary: Now here it goes again, here it goes again, I hear you took it to another level (x5)
Titus Andronicus, Jerseyans famous for their sloppy punk-rock and mammoth 2010 album, The Monitor
, have hit their breaking point.
In my eyes, The Monitor
was a failure, but their newest fails for completely different reasons. At least on The Monitor
, there was so much effort, so much rhyme and reason. It was music with conclusions, with arguments to be made; so important, in fact, Patrick Stickles had to shout them through his beard. No longer is there a beard, and no longer is there any rhyme or reason. Local Business
is the sound of Titus saying “Fu
ck it, nothing matters,” and delivering a messy pile of “impassioned” music, anyway. Local Business
is not a record to take seriously, and Titus Andronicus really
want you to know that. This is not The Monitor
, they’re having fun
, now. Everything from the cheesy piano medley in “Still Life With Hot Deuce On Silver Platter” and the atrocious lyrics to the palpable sense that Patrick Stickles really
wants you to not
take this record seriously end up in a contrived mess of a record that had no business being made.
“My Eating Disorder,” supposedly about lead man Patrick Stickles’ personal struggle with such, is vomit-inducingly repetitive, and its serious subject matter is downright silly when tacked up against the cheesiness of Local Business
’s entirety. I understand that we’re supposed to delight in how “carefree” and “drunken” his liturgies are, but the odd re-hashing of ideas and bizarre concoction of aesthetics make me feel more like the one sober guy at a party full of drunken losers.
“Titus Andronicus vs. The Absurd Universe (3rd Round KO),” complete with a title that reminds you that they’ve really run out of ideas this time, is an unlistenable track that blends punk tropes like a pithy, oft-repeated line but spreads it too thin, and applies it onto a canvas that could have easily come from a recent Gaslight Anthem or The Hold Steady record. “(I Am The) Electric Man” succumbs to the same folly but manages to stretch the folly over a solid four minutes.
In the second half of the record, the pace slows up and there’s even more focus on the lyrics. It’s a development that is definitely for the worse. When Stickles’s rants contain the constant references of The Monitor
or the earnestness of The Airing of Grievances
the result is merely inappropriate. Matched against the cleaner production and lack of inventive songwriting, they’re unfitting. When the lyrics strive for a new vein of thought, i.e. the “Your dick's too short to dick the world”
and “I'm a dirty bum, but I wipe my own ass,”
they’re laughable at best.
This doesn’t have the claustrophobic aura of their debut, where Stickles screamed every line like it could have been his last, sincerity ringing in-between the roughness. The clean-cut production of Local Business
sounds silly against its subject matter. The result is an excruciatingly awkward record in which nothing seems to fit together. I can understand the lower expectations that Local Business
will surely be met with. How harshly can we judge an album with a line like “Food fight!”
sung in gang vocals? Well, pretty harshly, if the execution is as mediocre as it is Titus’s latest record.
It’s a shame that the obviously verbose talent at the helm of Titus Andronicus couldn’t have been tempered with a more cohesive artistic vision; or any at all, for that matter. On closer “Tried To Quit Smoking,” Stickles drunkenly stumbles over elongated yelling about how he hates everyone as the guitar lines warble back and forth, and everything feels right just for a little. Hopefully Titus Andronicus sober up a little, and return after a hangover with a record that makes more sense.