Titus Andronicus Get Down to Business

by Anna Sheinaus

Oh, how to summarize the new Titus Andronicus album in 500 words or less? The Jersey rockers themselves do it best. Kicking off their new tour in support of their third album, Local Business, Titus bluntly and proudly announced through their Twitter, “PUNK IS BACK.” And oh yes, let it ring through the hills, it is.

After listening to Titus’s second album The Monitor, a Civil War concept album full of grandiose rock epics with layered bagpipe solos, this may seem hard to believe. After all, the band tends to avoid the standard punk formula of two-minute songs with straightforward lyrics.

Instead, they favor sprawling compositions that often approach 10 minutes and are embedded with literary references – without any hint of pretension whatsoever – which can be pretty hard to do when you’re named after an obscure Shakespearean tragedy.

But what they lack in punk credentials in terms of song structure, they make up for with their raw, unfiltered energy, especially on this new record. It keeps all the grit and grime of earlier albums, but is arguably the band’s tightest and most cohesive release.

Local Business bears some resemblance to the band’s earlier attempts, complete with exultant guitars, rhythms you can feel pounding throughout your body, and frontman Patrick Stickle’s trademark atonal and abrasive vocals. A self-professed nihilist, Stickles wails on the album’s opening song “Ecce Homo,” “I think by now we’ve established that everything is inherently worthless and there is nothing in the universe with any kind of objective purpose.”

So Titus isn’t exactly taking a break from the bleak outlook of The Monitor or 2008’s The Airing of Grievances, but nevertheless the band doesn’t want its listeners to whine and lay at home all day, mourning the futility of life.

No, Stickles has mused that the band chose to title the album Local Business to encourage listeners to celebrate punk, DIY, and local scenes. And it’s worth mentioning that the local businesses, the ones to which Titus is playing tribute, exist all around us—the band hails from Glen Rock.

So get out, put on your headphones and blast Titus Andronicus’ new album, explore your local scene, and maybe you’ll find that everything isn’t inherently worthless.

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