Reviewed by Ian Morales.
Titus Andronicus‘ latest release, The Monitor (XL Recordings), is one of the best albums to listen to at the highest decibel level you can stand, second only to maybe the first stamping of Metallica’s Death Magnetic album. These are the kind of records bands are supposed to make—loud, fast and angsty. Why everything these days has to be so studio and polished instead of just loud, lyrical and raw is baffling. While The Monitor doesn’t provide listeners with a perfect album from beginning to end, it does come close with only a few WTFs.
With its Civil War theme and guest musicians ranging from Wye Oak to Vivian Girls, The Monitor is a nerdgasm for History Channel-lovers and theatrical indie types alike. Upon first listen, it appears to be another ambient, piano-rock, three-chord indie record. It is that, but its punk elements raise The Monitor’s profile from just another samesy album to something of a must-have status.
The ever so lyric-savvy Patrick Stickles is the perfect voice for a throwback type of band like Titus Andronicus. He has the rasp and angst of an early punk band but still has the intellectual/emo sensibilities needed to please today’s new indie fan base. Ambient guitars, bagpipes, a rockin’ piano and saxophones create an interesting background for Stickles’s screaming/singingt. The best examples of this are the tracks “Titus Andronicus Forever” and “The Battle of Hampton Roads.”
Titus Andronicus: “A More Perfect Union”
Released by XL Recordings, a label known for being uber-indie, it was a nice surprise to hear a recent release that sounded more like my old vinyl records than the latest Pitchfork fair. Titus Andronicus is an indie band in the same sense Minor Threat or Sonic Youth were once considered indie. Think punk before punk was a shopping mall brand. Think of a much cooler and younger Bruce Springstein and the E-Street Band. Think Arcade Fire getting tougher and grittier. That’s The Monitor.
Red River rating: 8.5 out of 10