Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: The Airing of Grievances, The Monitor, Titus Andronicus
PREVIEW: VISIT Titus Andronicus’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts
Titus Andronicus’s first album, The Airing of Grievances, was received with great praise for its riotous and rebellious lyrics and energizing guitar riffs. Thus the band’s second album is surrounded with nothing less than hopeful anticipation, and they don’t disappoint. The shoegaze-influenced band delivers in a big way with their sophomore album The Monitor.
It appears that Titus Andronicus are not lacking inspirational muses, if anything it seems that the young band is constantly stimulated by almost everything: The band’s name is the title of a Shakespeare tragedy, and The Monitor, which revolves around the conflicts of the American Civil War, refers to the U.S.’ first ironclad warship. Confused? Dubious? Don’t be. The album is not only smart and energetic, but it also shows a real maturation of this band whose first album might have left you unsure of where they could be headed next.
As a second album, The Monitor provides a new dimension to the band that listeners wouldn’t necessarily have expected. For one, it’s a concept album that, despite it’s potential to be drawn out and overblown, really unifies the album. It has its prospective downfalls that listeners might criticize– songs that go far beyond the six-minute mark and interlaced sequences of dialogue such as in the recreated Lincoln speech on the opening track “A More Perfect Union.” There are also a few lengthy lulls that seem out of place among upbeat tracks such as “Titus Andronicus Forever” that easily get stuck in your head. But these issues are brushed aside when considering the album’s quality and uniqueness that definitely has more ups then downs.
Their final track “The Battle of Hampton Roads” really marks a transcendence and development for the group. Fourteen minutes is just enough time for the gradual build up of rhythmic melodies and changing tempos to reach an explosive classic guitar solo that make it hard to resist nodding your head in kind
Despite some minor problems, Titus Andronicus show a new side to their brand of rock that raises the bar. The Monitor ‘s boisterous beats and memorable lyrics have helped the band break the mold established by their first record. While their distinctive approach and style prove that rock can be pointed, intelligent and almost nerdy, yet still pack a punch.