Titus Andronicus
The Most Lamentable Tragedy


4.5
superb

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
July 30th, 2015 | 341 replies


Release Date: 07/28/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Titus Andronicus come roaring back.

At some point in the history of every great band, there has come a time when they’ve simply thrown caution to the wind. Sometimes it’s a massive concept album, like The Who’s Tommy, while other times it’s a wild departure in style, such as Radiohead’s Kid A. It remains to be seen if Titus Andronicus have as many gears as the latter (probably not), but if The Most Lamentable Tragedy proves anything, it’s that these guys possess the creative chops to be mentioned alongside some of the greatest conceptual artists of all time. I mean think about it...only five years ago they unveiled the elaborate, civil war-themed The Monitor, and even though they retreated slightly inwards with Local Business, they’re now throwing a twenty-nine track rock opera in our faces. Is it really that far-fetched to say that they’re this generation’s punk answer to The Who, or that The Most Lamentable Tragedy – complete with doppelgangers symbolizing bipolar disorder – approaches the level of introspection explored by Pink Floyd’s The Wall? Unless you’re one of those types who has written off any and all music after 1979, it’s at least worth debating. One thing is for sure though: with everything they’ve accomplished to this point, Titus Andronicus is now an indisputably great band – and The Most Lamentable Tragedy is their magnum opus.

The Most Lamentable Tragedy takes all of the band’s pent up rage and just lets it fly. It’s Titus Andronicus at their most liberated, and it bursts forth with a kind of energy that could have only emanated from a band that has accomplished everything that it wants to, and resultantly no longer gives a fuck. There’s something immensely satisfying about hearing a group of musicians with so much talent putting everything they have on a grand stage for mass consumption, even if parts of it fall victim to the inevitable clichés of conceptualized rock operas. Yes there are copious amounts of interludes, and a number of them don’t add much value to the experience. You might have also guessed that there are characters who contribute to a very specific plotline, thus eliminating any room for unique interpretation. If concept albums ruffle your feathers, then The Most Lamentable Tragedy isn’t here to extend an olive branch. This is unapologetically grandiose, over-the-top for the hell of it, and it stands directly in the spotlight while brazenly demanding attention. It’s the perfect type of album for a group of enraged drunkards like Titus Andronicus to tackle.

Not only do Patrick Stickles and company attempt this ambitious project, but they also turn it into a masterpiece worthy of contending for The Monitor’s throne at their discography's summit. It doesn’t take long to realize that it's worthy of such high praise, either. “No Future Part IV: No Future Triumphant” kicks things off in rollicking fashion, with Stickles belligerently shouting “I hate to be awake” atop angry drumming and soaring electric guitars. Even though the overarching tone of The Most Lamentable Tragedy could be described as furious – as “Look Alive” and “Dimed Out” aptly demonstrate – there’s still plenty of ebb and flow to help listeners digest all of the madness unraveling around them. Catchy singalong numbers like “I Lost My Mind (+@)” and “Fatal Flaw” inject an ideal dose of tune sense, while the slow-burning “More Perfect Union” and thoughtful crooner “Stable Boy” provide the album with its deepest and arguably most impactful moments. Of course there’s also curveballs that will throw you for a total loop, like the tempo change that closes out “Lonely Boy”, or the sudden eruption into hymns on “Sun Salutation” – which interestingly enough is preceded by a minute and seventeen seconds of absolute silence. Sometimes it’s clear that Titus Andronicus is just fucking with you, but those are also the moments that make this album such a fun, off-kilter listen.

One of the most likeable aspects of The Most Lamentable Tragedy is that, unlike most extravagant concept albums of this nature, it doesn’t sacrifice its human element. There’s a reason that tracks like “The Battle of Hampton Roads” are held in such high regard by fans, and while I can’t claim that any particular track here matches that emotional level, the same overall damned if I care attitude which tells it like it is (often whilst inebriated) is alive and well. Stickles still stumbles awkwardly through his verses, blatantly missing notes while achieving the grander goal of conveying feelings that will resonate with anyone who’s ever felt angry, deserted, or cheated by the world. There’s no denying his authenticity when he sings lines like, ‘Violently neutered and caged, stuffed with subliminal hate / I’m nothing but a puppet at play, crying in a beautiful place’ on “Stranded (On My Own)”, or that he’s not afraid to say exactly what’s on his mind when he spits out ‘This ever gaping emptiness, I got to throw something into it now…I need to fuck someone tonight’ on “(S)HE SAID / (S)HE SAID.” Patrick Stickles is the same raw vocalist and lyricist who we’ve all come to appreciate, even if his style was an acquired taste. The instrumental approach and overall production has also remained virtually undoctored, making The Most Lamentable Tragedy the best kind of concept album: one that builds its massive scope on real, tangible substance – not by cutting corners and applying makeup where it isn't needed.

In an era where most concept albums are frowned upon and viewed as a gimmick, Titus Andronicus have delivered an absolute game changer. The Most Lamentable Tragedy is the product of one of the best punk bands of our time making music in their prime, and when you factor in the level of ambition present, you’re left with a rock opera for the ages. Rarely do so many factors align perfectly, and it’s little wonder that Titus Andronicus’ place in history is worth seriously discussing now. Between The Monitor and The Most Lamentable Tragedy, they’ve now crafted two borderline flawless concept albums – which when you consider the rather small window for success in such endeavors – is no minor feat. Titus Andronicus could hang up their instruments tomorrow and be hailed as one of the most creative punk rock bands of the new millennium. However, I have a feeling that they still have plenty of gas left in the tank. If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to climb aboard and see where this crazy group of punk-rockers go. Wherever they end up, I’m sure the ride will be epic.




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user ratings (272)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
KevinDixon (4.5)
A rock opera well worth the price of admission...

Lee Whear (5)
yes future...

AsimovsGhost (4.5)
It may be a lamentable tragedy, but it's far from an uninspiring album...


Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
July 30th 2015


23872 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7 | Sound Off

Cue the shit storm over those classic rock analogies.

Digging: Lorde - Melodrama

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
July 30th 2015


38660 Comments


hyperbole to the max bro

this isn't an album for the ages, it isn't the new Wall, it's not even the best album of the year imo, it's just a fun punk record that doesn't really have a whole lot of substance (no more so than you would expect anyway)

but I respect the effort ofc, good work

Digging: Lorde - Melodrama

Crawl
July 30th 2015


2259 Comments


This so doesn't need the 90-minute runtime

SonofSnow
July 30th 2015


1685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I thought this was most comparable to London Calling personally, if we are gonna make the classic rock comparisons.

dimsim3478
July 30th 2015


7504 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

gotta disagree with rowbro, i reckon this thing carries a ton of substance, and is a remarkable achievement in punk that goes beyond mere "fun".



second best album of the year behind kendrick, imo

Digging: Dotsuitarunen - COLOR LIFE

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
July 30th 2015


38660 Comments


it's not that it doesn't have substance but I'm just not hearing the complex multi-layered storyline y'all are hearing. it's just Stickles doing what he does best and letting loose

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 30th 2015


23872 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7 | Sound Off

For the record I'm not saying this is as good as The Wall or anything, just that the introspection and bipolar traits are parallel. I'll admit that this is written with a degree of hyperbole, but IMO it's pretty warranted. I think people tend to overlook punk bands as if they aren't capable of producing a classic in the same vein as Floyd, Queen, etc, who are often put on a pedestal just because our parents' generation was closed off to the idea that modern music could possibly be as good.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
July 30th 2015


38660 Comments


it's not like I don't think modern bands can produce material on that level (although WYWH is unmatchable) it just didn't happen in this case imo. Punk by its nature often precludes the type of ambition you need to tell a story like that. This is definitely a step away from those boundaries but it's nothing groundbreaking

SonofSnow
July 30th 2015


1685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

People tend to acknowledge Radiohead with the greats (rightfully so)..



Though, yeah Rowan, WYWH is like my GOAT.

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 30th 2015


23872 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7 | Sound Off

I wouldn't necessarily call it groundbreaking in the grand scheme of things, although I do stand by the game changer comment in the context of helping the modern perception of concept albums. Other than that it's just a really good album. Of course, you're allowed to disagree.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
July 30th 2015


38660 Comments


it's a point towards the flexibility of punk bands/general concept albums in the modern day I'll give it that for sure

snow knows how it goes

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 30th 2015


23872 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7 | Sound Off

WYWH is my fave Floyd, but not my GOAT...everyone knows what that is for me. People don't show Piper at the Gates or Meddle enough love ftr.

Gyromania
July 30th 2015


22144 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

disagree

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
July 30th 2015


38660 Comments


plenty of people will tout Meddle as their fav Floyd round these parts (it has a very weak middle section personally but eh) and Piper is generally regarded as one of the masterpieces of psychedelia so idk man

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 30th 2015


23872 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7 | Sound Off

Idk I mean usually everyone touts The Wall and DSOTM as their best. Music communities are different, but the general population isn't like, yeah man Piper at the Gates.



(anyway, Pink Floyd is pretty much the opposite of this band so...)

YoYoMancuso
July 30th 2015


12658 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

spectacular album and review

Digging: Captain, We're Sinking - The King Of No Man

melnadaiid
July 30th 2015


315 Comments


I'll give this a 1 just for the band thinking 90 minute albums are appropriate

melnadaiid
July 30th 2015


315 Comments


no but rly I don't see the hype around this band at all, sounds p bland to me for some reason

SonofSnow
July 30th 2015


1685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Man people complaining about the length of this must have not listened to the Kamasi Washington record.

Arcade
Staff Reviewer
July 30th 2015


8281 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

great review and all but idk... the constant comparisons kind of read like a crutch. was expecting something more personal like your review for The Monitor- nought wrong here, but metaphors and similes are figuratively the worst thing ever.



as for the album, probably not on par with The Monitor but i can see it growing on me more over time.

Digging: Vince Staples - Big Fish Theory



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