2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Enemy Is Everywhere.,
This review is from: THE MONITOR (Audio CD)
Titus Andronicus are a band that are literally steeped in history. Their name, of course, comes from the title of William Shakespeare's most brutal & bloodthirsty play, the title of their debut 2008 album 'The Airing of Grievances' was named after a famous quote from T.V sitcom royalty Seinfeld (not really history but I had to get a mention of Seinfeld in there somewhere) and now in 2010 they have gone and released a 65-minute long album loosely based upon the (once again, extremely bloody) US Civil War. Do you think they are trying to tell us something?.
If you are a new-comer to this glorious New Jersey alt-rock band then all this talk of bloodthirst and brutallity will certainly go some way to preparing you for the intense gut-wrenching experience listening to this group can sometimes incur. For example, take opener 'A More Perfect Union' which starts with a quick monolouge (by Okey Canfield Chenoweth) of 'Abraham Lincoln's address to the Young Men's Lyeeum of Springfield, before flooding into a Replacements-esque punk rock song in which singer Patrick Stickles talks of the love he feels for his hometown (indeed, within the first 2 minutes he manages to mis-quote Bruce Springsteen) and the whole 6 & a half minute length is full of blistering percussion and heartfelt vocals. This opening song really sets the tone for the rest of the record.........
...which is both a blessing and a curse. The template set out by that initial 6 minute blast is so rigidly stuck to that at times the long length of the album can be a detriment to the overall effect, with some songs seamlessly leading into the next meaning some of the (numourous) moments of greatness can be lost on first listen. This is a problem that is easily overcome by repeated listens when songs such as 'No Future Part 3' (parts 1 & 2 can be found on the debut incidently), 'Four Score And Seven' and 'The Battle Of Hampton Roads' seemingly jumping out of the stereo and demanding your attention. Also, the clever use of further monolouges (Craig Finn as Walt Whitman!!!) work to puncture the record at intermittable moments.
The scale of the album cannot be underestimated with the group throwing absolutely everything at the wall (10 minutes into 'The Battle Of Hampton Roads' they decide to have a bagpipe solo!) and keeping what works. This method of song writing is to commended and it is extremly nice to see a band that arn't afraid to put their collective head on the block in return for creativity & art's sake.
I would hope that in the future they will see fit to try and change the template a little and move themselves into some new areas, but all that can wait for the future and right now this is as good a second album as we could have expected (in fact it surpasses most of my expectations).
For fans of The Clash, The Pogues, The Replacements and Arcade Fire, my suspicions are that this will feature on many a 'best of 2010' poll come the end of the year and most deserving of such accolades it is.