Titus Andronicus

Local Business

Written by: TL on 14/11/2012 20:20:37

Two years ago I became familiar with indie/punk rock quartet Titus Andronicus via their excellent sophomore album "The Monitor" which was such a grand, layered and foremostly unusual take on American punk-rock that I scored it high and mentioned in on my 'Best Of' list for the year. So basically I've been waiting to see what the band would come up with ever since, and now what they've come up with is "Local Business", which was released a little less than a month ago.

If you're not familiar with Titus Andronicus yet (go back and listen to "The Monitor"!), they sound like American, Springsteen-ish rock tradition added the speed, recklessness and flat out danger of punk ethos. That is to say their instrumentals sound like the songs were initially jammed while cruising the width of the American continent on the back of a jalopy with no suspension, while the singing, courtesy of vocalist/guitarist Patrick Stickles, comes off like Andy Hull or Conor Oberst coming home from a bad night on the town, all bitter and full of piss and vinegar, ready to verbally abuse anyone unfortunate enough to cross their paths.

While the band's last album really made the most of the dramatic elements of their sound, lending grandeur to an already ambitious analogy between relationships and the American civil war, "Local Business" signals right from the start that Titus are going for a more grounded record this time around, and indeed the attitude of the album is one that seems angrier in a way that is only thinly veiled by a bratty sort of humour. The change is carried out thoroughly, right from the simple artwork and title, over song titles like "Still Life With Hot Deuce On A Silver Platter" and "Food Fight!".

This change gives the band's sound an interesting contrast of sentimental versus misanthropic: see for instance album closer "Tried To Quit Smoking" in which Stickles sings "It's not that I wanted to hurt you, I just didn't care if I did.. It's not that I didn't love you, It's just that I hate everyone", on a bluesy backdrop that hints of less detachment than the lyrics otherwise describe. While the contrast is indeed interesting however, the different vibes at times seem to work against each other, making for a confusion that hinders the exhilarating musical energy which is otherwise carried over from "The Monitor".

The good news is that while "Local Business" might not be as grand or as captivating an album as "The Monitor", an argument can be made that it is a catchier one. By virtue of the vitriolic attitude shown in many of the band's clever turns of phrase, repeat listens will simply give the listener more and more verbal hooks that stick to the mind. Take the gem: "try to swallow while you're still young, that your dick's too short to fuck the world" for instance. That's just one from "In A Small Body" that, for better or worse, is not leaving my mind any time soon.

Listen by listen strong lines like that will reveal themselves as plentiful on "Local Business", and their delivery eventually proves to be the main muscle on an album that really isn't at all easy to become friends with otherwise. If it weren't for them, I would say that the songs here lacked the individual strength and the sound the rush of novelty, for me to remember it for a long time. But because of their inclusion, "Local Business" consistently proves to be a listen which rewards your attention with a hint of there being more to notice on further spins. And that's why I have the feeling that this record will constistently surprise returning listeners with how much of it they actually recognise and appreciate, despite it not coming on so strong on first encounters.

8

Download: In A Small Body, Upon Viewing Oregon's Landscape With The Flood Of Detritus, Tried To Quit Smoking, My Eating Disorder
For The Fans Of: Off With Their Heads; Against Me; Run, Forever
Listen: facebook.com/TitusAndronicusOfficial

Release Date 22.10.2012
XL Recordings

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