Review Summary: Local Business: A Fuckin' Walking Paradox3 of 3 thought this review was well written
Contrary to what the summary may lead you to believe, neither Titus Andronicus nor their new album Local Business has anything to do with Tyler, the Creator. However TC's "Yonkers" just so happened to unintentionally described Titus' new effort with impeccable precision, "A ***in' walking paradox". Now that that's out of the way...
Local Business is a complete departure from the ambitious, Civil War themed The Monitor from a few years back. In Local Business, TA seem to have willfully shed their ambition because it's, as they say in "Ecce Homo", "inherently worthless". However, the paradoxical nature of the whole thing is that the music itself is really well done. So well done, in fact, that it gives off an aura of the band reveling in their intentionally renounced sense of everything.
The dichotomy between the willful rejection of ambition and the willful ambition surrounding the execution of said rejection suggests Patrick Stickles and co. are a bunch of really confused, frustrated dudes. They know they will never understand the absurdity of the universe with an exclaimed "I'm going insane!", but they also know they still have issues that are very real and impacting as explored in the dark lyrical content of "My Eating Disorder". Whether the album was engineered to come out this way or not, it's a truly thought-provoking and relate-able way to go about writing music.
There's another side to Local Business, however. Titus Andronicus have no problem extracting humor from their existential crises, and in comedic fashion usually juxtapose it with the really serious stuff. Take for example "Food Fight", the silliest song TA have ever written, which is literally the band yelling "food fight!" over and over again being placed next to "My Eating Disorder" as if to mock it's seriousness forever. It's situations like these that are a testament to the amount of thought and attention put into Local Business despite it's intent to prove you otherwise.
All of this thought-provoking nonsense and comedic drivel would be just that if not given the proper platform on which to be taken seriously. The music on Local Business is wonderful and stands up to anything on either of their previous full lengths. In addition to the punk-meets-classic-rock template of a mojrity of the music, Owen Pallett aka Final Fantasy has also been enlisted to add strings to some of the songs. "In a Small Body" has what is probably the band's most well done string section. Album closer "Tried to Quit Smoking" also has a satisfying musical dynamic in the form of a harmonica adding to the melodramatic mood of the song. It is safe to say that Local Business is more than competent in terms of instrumentals and even saves some of the more forgettable songs from falling into "boring" territory.
And truthfully Local Business is extremely far from an infallible record. There's so much stuff going on here that some of it is bound to be broken. Titus' latest is no exception. There are some songs, namely "Upon Viewing Oregon..." that are just not as fun, interesting or hilarious as the rest of the content on the album. They exist to detract from the twisted yet relate-able logic that the album survives on, and that breaks continuity. Additionally the second half of the record is quite dense compared to the first. Once you get over the hump that is "My Eating Disorder", albeit how enjoyable it is, you may need to take a break before tackling what comes next and ultimately the near ten minute album closer. That, and the album as a whole requires a very active listen if you even want a glimpse of what's going on in it, which is not necessarily a bad thing but it isn't as rewarding otherwise.
Clearly Local Business has a lot to it, and despite it's simple name and cover art is a very complex collection of songs. In classic Titus Andronicus fashion it is a roller coaster ride, though with a very different edge this time around. It's rewarding if given a chance but not without it's many faults. As far as the direction of the record, Tyler, the Creator puts it best but do not be fooled, Titus Andronicus is definitely a bit confused and frustrated, but they haven't given up.