In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “A lot more wide ranging than the punk rock genre definer would usually indicate.”
When you do a Google search for “Titus Andronicus band”, the description for their official site reads, “Specializing in punk since 2005”. How could I not be impressed by a band undertaking such a noble endeavour for over a decade? That’s the kind of thing that makes it feel like it’s my musical civic duty to listen to at least one of their records. One of their records like The Monitor.
Namechecking New Jersey before declaring, “Baby we were born to die” is an obvious reference to the 80s, studio rock and roll of people like Bruce Springsteen. But A More Perfect Union has none of their slick sheen of those songs or that era. There’s a lo-fi, dirt to this song, even when the playing is air tight. And the wavering in Patrick Stickles’ voice gives everything a raw sincerity.
After a surprisingly stripped back, but melodic opener, Titus Andronicus get a little more in your face with the boot stomping chants and guitar melting shredding of Titus Andronicus Forever. The two dynamics of those songs are then combined for the screams and lightness of No Future Part Three: Escape Form No Future.
Celtic beats and rhythms get The Monitor treatment with the relentless Richard II or Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (Responsible Hate Anthem). It’s as straight forward and to the point as its title is overly convoluted and pointlessly elaborate.
The band gets more epic and ambitious on A Pot in Which to Piss and it pays off. From hypnotic wandering, to a soaring chorus of voices, to inspirational pianos and layer sup on layer upon layer of bombast, these punk specialists who that they can also go big, complex and intricately grand.
A square dance beat, country fiddle and faux-cowboy drawl make up the first half of Theme From ‘Cheers’ before things get more punk rock in the middle, before the two styles meld perfectly for the rousing couple of verses that feel like they could be accompanied by a crowd swaying their beers in the air, in time with the triumphant music.
Titus Andronicus might claim to “specialize in punk”, but The Monitor is a lot more wide ranging than that genre definer would usually indicate. Clocking in at over an hour, it’s 10 tracks are more extended than your average punk numbers, and even when album closer The Battle of Hampton Roads, complete with a full drum and pipe band coda exceeds a massive 14 minutes, it never outstays its welcome. The energy and rawness of punk rock abound, but the musical ambition goes far beyond.