Band: Titus Andronicus
Album: The Monitor
Release Date: March 9, 2010
“If destruction be our lot, we ourselves must be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we will live forever, or die by suicide.”
A quote from Abraham Lincoln, known as “Honest Abe,” could not be found in a more appropriate place than the beginning of Titus Andronicus‘ second release, The Monitor. It’s a blitzkreig of rock ‘n’ roll truth that can knock you on your back if you aren’t ready for it. It’s also the best record of the year, in my humble opinion.
The Monitor is a deep, compelling 65 minutes of music that keeps me coming back for more. The lyrics are interesting and the music is, for the most part, fast-paced guitar-driven rock that keeps your toe-tapping, even as you’re getting lost in the imagery of Patrick Stickles’ words.
If you’ve read a couple of my previous reviews, you know that I enjoy a song that I can scream along with. The Monitor gives me a ton of opportunities to yell at the top of my lungs. My favorite of these comes on the lead track, “A More Perfect Union”:
Because where I’m going to now, no one can ever hurt me
Where the well of human hatred is shallow and dry
No, I never wanted to change the world, but I’m looking for a new New Jersey
Because tramps like us, baby, we were born to die
The album is filled with references to all things New Jersey, including the Springsteen song alluded to in the line quoted above. It’s also chock full of historical references, lots of talk of alcohol and broken relationships with family, friends and the opposite sex.
For an example of these broken relationships, take this excerpt from “To Old Friends and New,” the album’s only duet. It’s also the slowest song on the record, and the most brutally honest:
Are you just too fucked up
to understand me
or is it the other way around?
Maybe it’s both
and I just don’t know which is worse
It’s a heartbreaking tune. But its message, in the end, seems to be life goes on. An upbeat message for an album that is constantly paranoid with an unseen enemy, lurking just around the corner, waiting to attack us. That enemy, not named in specifics, could be the government, authority figures or even God.
Leaving it open to interpretation, Titus Andronicus have hit on an interesting point. In the atmosphere of the world around us today, who isn’t thinking about unseen dangers and the possibility that at the push of a button we could all be gone. It’s a deep concept, and one I think we need to be aware of in our daily lives.
There is danger, always has been, always will be. How much you let it affect your life is up to you. Or maybe that isn’t what they’re saying at all, and I’m just espousing projections in lieu of knowing what they’re really talking about.
What I do know is that by the time the final track, “The Battle of Hampton Roads,” hits, a 14-minute wallop of feeling and sound that starts quick and fades slow, you’re sweating, getting anxious and sad, because you know at the end of this track, the album will be over.
And when you’re singing along with Mr. Stickles’ as the album comes to a close, you’ll be feeling the same thing he is: “Please don’t ever leave.”
- Titus Andronicus hail from Glen Rock, New Jersey. They are: Patrick Stickles (guitar/harmonica/vocals), Ian Graetzer (bass), Amy Klein (guitar/violin), Eric Harm (drums/vocals) and David Robbins (keyboards/guitar).
- The Monitor is available for $13.99 on Amazon.com (physical CD) or $9.99 on iTunes (mp3s, obvi).
- Titus Andronicus will perform at Metro on September 18 with Best Coast (Los Angeles), Free Energy (Philadelphia) and Male Bonding (London). Tickets are $17 (or $19 day of).
“A More Perfect Union” official music video