New Jersey. Land of the Sopranos, Dr. House, shady industries; the perfect image we have of the term “suburbs”, and also the home of these guys: Titus Andronicus. I had never heard their name until I was cruising around The National’s Last.fm page and I read some discussions arguing that their new album “High Violet” was as much of a contender for best album of the year as Titus’ new record and Beach House’s “Teen Dream”. All three of them worthy of such title, I must say. Actually, I also heard about some band called “Fantasy Islands”, but I have not listened to their stuff, although I did buy it. However, out of the three (or four?) of them my indiscutible favorite is “The Monitor”.
My first listen through the album (and I have heard the shit out of it since) I found myself having severe dejavus back to Conor Oberst’s older stuff, back when he was young and emotional about everything (before he cleaned up, and then once again). It’s just impossible not to think about Bright Eyes early records and Desaparecidos when you listen to Stiles voice. Fortunately, those resemblances wear off after the first coupe listens and you finally get to truly enjoy the freshness of this young fine band; and even better, the album is just as good after the 10th listen.
I’ve heard that “The Monitor” was somehow related to the Civil War, it was some sort of heroic ship or something. In fact, before I heard the album (listened? I feel bad using “hear”) and I did my quick background research I got the idea that this was supposed to be a conceptual album about the Civil War. It could very well be with song titles such as “Richard III”, “The Battle of Hampton Roads” and the concurrent hymn of the album “The Enemy is Everywhere!”. The thing is, the lyrics don’t really reflect any of this. “The Battle of Hampton Roads” might as well be called “Fuck You, world”, and the whole album could be titled “Teen Angst: A Story of Alcohol, Virgins and Depravation”. But that is a long title and it wouldn’t fly with the record label. So they called it “The Monitor”. Needless to say, I love this record.
The whole album is one big highlight, but if I had to chose my favorites they’d probably be the opener “A More Perfect Union” with it’s sticky fast pace and amazing energic guitar solo; “A Pot in Which To Piss”, which feels like a roller coaster and has an awesome breakdown near the end. “Theme From Cheers” starts weird and it really doesn’t go with the rest of the album but it all returns to shape when Stiles grabs the mic again and changes the direction of the song faster than you can say “anger”. Other favorites also include “No Future Part Three: Escape from no Future” and the closer “The Battle of Hampton Roads” with it’s epic 14 minutes. I know, I might as well just list the whole album. And I could.
This is definitely worth hearing. Do yourself a favor and support these guys.
And I need a whisky too.