Review Summary: Fuck everything, fuck me
Patrick Stickles is an angry man. The Titus Andronicus front man has had enough of everything: the pains of growing up, the ramped ignorance among us, and even the fact that you have been blessed with a better singing voice than him. Whatever frustration Stickles apparently is feeling, none of it remains cooped up inside as you could imagine. This full-bearded fireball wants you to know his every thought, preferably through scarcely decipherable, and sometimes out of tune vocals and hordes of swearing. However seriously you may take it, Stickles is sincere as you will ever be; even if it is conveyed through one of the more muddled and ugly records in recent memory. In other words, this is what punk rock is meant to be.
Titus Andronicus is the type of band that seems to get away with flaws that would not be tolerated within other groups. Setting aside the inebriated vocals, the instrumentation is lackadaisical and excessive; relying on heavy feedback and monstrous interludes that account for most of the runtime. The band’s debut The Airing of Grievances
, is driven by anything from a brass section to a harmonica in such a jumbled manner that it becomes perplexing why it works so well in the first place. The lyrics are rather clever for each of the record’s nine tracks, but this does not prevent a few of the choruses from getting carried away in a simplistic and ridiculous fashion. “YOUR LIFE IS OVER,” the band exclaims over and over again on the album’s sixth track, coming off as uplifting, but ultimately presenting a devastated band over the loss of their beliefs and dreams. The opener “Fear And Loathing In Mahwah, NJ” may be the most blatantly revengeful track on the record, for it possesses an unyielding anger which tears down its own boundaries. “People will tell you that if you don't love your neighbor, then you don't love God, but no god of mine would put light in such unrighteous eyes.” The Airing of Grievances
is chock full of these moments, demonstrated in such a vulgar, yet pleasurable fashion throughout.
The Airing of Grievances
is chaotic, self-loathing, and excessive, but there is just something that continues to draw us into this band. Titus Andronicus appeals to us because they are so imperfect; they remind us so much of ourselves that we can’t help but relate to their flaws. With the compelling nature of the band’s debut taken into consideration, it’s easy to draw comparisons with fellow New Jersey natives The Gaslight Anthem, and their ability to transform something aggravating and demoralizing into pure enjoyment, which is something that cannot be undermined.