sun 03/07/2022

CD: Titus Andronicus - Local Business | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Titus Andronicus - Local Business

CD: Titus Andronicus - Local Business

Literate rock from the New Jersey band you probably haven't already heard of

Local Business: as close to a straight-up rock record as it gets for Titus Andronicus

The concept album can be a tricky beast; Titus Andronicus’s 2010 epic The Monitor more so than most. How to follow up an album that loosely ties your frontman’s break-up to the American Civil War, complete with spoken-word interludes voiced by contemporary punk artists playing historical figures, in which rousing choruses bounce surprisingly out of 14-minute rock operas? The answer, as provided by Local Business, is that you don’t.

Titus’s third full-length is instead probably as close to a straight-up rock record as they have in them, bearing in mind that we are talking about a band from heartland New Jersey who have named themselves after a Shakespearean tragedy. It opens with pounding drums, a triumphant guitar riff and the lines: “Okay I think that we’ve now established everything is inherently worthless, and there’s nothing in the universe with any kind of objective purpose”. If in that couplet you recognise a sneering, 21st century update of Kurt Cobain’s particular brand of nihilism then you’ll be pleased to know that there isn’t much of a let-up in the gently humorous cynicism over the next 45 minutes.

In Patrick Stickles, Titus find themselves with the sort of frontman who is halfway between poet and crazed preacher. It makes the album a difficult one to review without a lyric sheet in hand as he half-hollers, half-spits violent word pictures over heavy, melodic riffs. His delivery can make the pictures themselves hard to see, although new lines show up in the spatter with every listen. “Upon Viewing Oregon’s Landscape with the Flood of Detritus” is, as far as I can tell, a vivid recounting of a fatal traffic accident complete with incredibly nihilistic couplets like “upon the pavement for each and every particle of glass there are a thousand dreams never come to pass ... just like me, they were made to be thrown away”.

But it’s the delivery as much as the content that makes Stickles’s work so effective - “Tried to Quit Smoking”, the album’s nigh-on 10 minute woozy closer, combines end-of-romantic cliche with a world-weariness that cannot be replicated on paper. And “Food Fight!” descends into short, sharp anarchy without bothering with lyrics at all.

Watch the lyric video for "In a Big City" below

Titus find themselves with the sort of frontman who is halfway between poet and crazed preacher


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters