Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Titus Andronicus - Local Business


Titus Andronicus open their third album with "EcceHomo", the cynical overwhelming rock track with punk undertones. Vocalist Patrick Stickles shouts, "I think by now we've established, everything is inherently worthless." He sets the standard of the album in the first line. The guitar riff, thumping drums and compliant bass are all thrown out the window and the listener focuses directly to Patrick, because that's what gave Titus Andronicus their break in independent music, and that's what this album is all about. The effect of The Monitor will show how Titus Andronicus have coped with new found fame and critical acclaim. Local Business has taken two years and Titus Andronicus are over their 'epic' period, drifting into their new rock period.

"Still Life With Hot Deuce On Silver Platter" opens with a guitar riff that could have been lifted from a mediocre Clash album from the 80s; however the following lead guitar (as minimal as it may be) strikes me as exciting. The production seems to have evolved from the lo-fi tendency to a compact rock sound, leaving me slightly confused at why they have approached the sound this way. The guitar, bass and drums don't strike me as individualistic at all, the vocals are there and they are excellent as always, it's just the instrumental that lets them down because it's all in unison rather than raw, rocking and Titus Andronicus-esque.

Unfortunately, this compact sound is heard throughout the album and continues on the following track "Upon Viewing Oregon's LandscapeWith The Flood Of Detritus". It's not as bad as I’m making it out to be, it really isn't. When you imagine punk rock, you don't think of a production team carefully editing sounds to make it flow gracefully, softening the edges. You imagine a raw and crisp recording with sharp edges and D.I.Y everything. Kevin McMahon returns to produced Local Business after his brilliant work on The Monitor, I'm just slight bemused at how bland the first few tracks are. They're not bad at all lyrically; it's just the sound I have a gripe with. These tracks are considered the best of the bunch but I disagree completely, however they're not bad. With "Food Fight" capping off the first segment with a pretty straightforward instrumental track looking back at the glorious age of rock and roll with thunderous guitar solos and heavy drumming.

"My Eating Disorder" is somewhat of a two part track. The first part is a brilliant track about Patrick’s life with his eating disorder. The instrumental around him works and I adore the little guitar solos and layered guitars. The second half isn't needed on the track. It's just the refrain of the title track with a stripped down instrumental segment. This repeats for approximately four minutes, which includes the little dynamic section "Spit it out / my eating disorder / spit it out." The following track is louder and far more aggressive. It opens with Patrick shouting, "I'm going insane." It actually finishes with Patrick shouting this lyric, in fact... The whole track is Patrick repeating this single lyric.

The standout track is easily "In A Big City". It fits in with the albums lyrical material and cynical nature. Patrick delivers a brilliant vocal with little digs at popular culture and a 'fuck it' attitude. The instrumentation is a real highlight with the brilliant backing vocals and twinkling guitar work. "In A Small Body" is a slower, easier and longer track than its heavy predecessor. "Don't tell me I was born free", says Patrick at the end of the first verse. Likewise in nature, "(I Am The) Electric Man" is somewhat of a Neil Young styled track with a bit of New Jersey's finest, Bruce Springsteen. It's not my favourite track on the album but I think the vocals and the chorus works a treat.

Closing track "Tried To Quit Smoking” is a lengthy ballad accumulating almost 10 minutes in length, so long that I have to use a number rather than letters. The build-up takes far too long to get going, if you can say it's going somewhere. The guitars are nice and I can imagine this song being played acoustically in a compact venue late at night, but it's not a winning formula on Local Business.

You will notice comparisons to previous album The Monitor; however you won't perceive Local Business to be as 'good' as The Monitor. The lack of instrumentation, concept and over-blown material isn't a bad thing; it's just not what I expected. The lovely brass instrumentation and bagpipes made The Monitor an interesting indie rock album. I see Local Business and The Monitor's grandfather. It’s slightly cynical, slightly depressed and essentially fed up with the youth. This isn't a downfall or a 'dud' album; it's just not very good. Titus Andronicus may have peaked at The Monitor, but there’s still plenty of life and time left in them before becoming releasing a Cut TheCrap.
~Eddie

7.2

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