Titus Andronicus – The Monitor Titus Andronicus – The Monitor

Titus Andronicus – The Monitor

Titus Andronicus – The Monitor

Ok, let me be real for a second. I’m a certified foaming-at-the-mouth Titus Andronicus-obsessed fanboy of the highest order, which probably means I shouldn’t be writing a review for this album. Of course this thing’s a straight-up 5/5 in my head, but I’m trying my best to remove myself from my rabid love affair with this band to rate this objectively as possible.

In my mind, the best thing a buzz band can do on their second album is be as absurdly ambitious as possible. Titus Andronicus’s second album The Monitor handily achieves this while still sticking to the guns of their stellar debut. Yes, it is a concept album about a dude from New Jersey during the Civil War that includes plenty of anachronistic jumps in time and present-day culture references. Yes, the songs do include several “movements” within the same song, often exceeding the seven-minute mark. Yes, there are an average of three guitar solos per song. While these are undoubtedly new approaches for the band, they’re still the same lovably scrappy, noisy, irreverent, nihilistic/existentialist punks they were on The Airing of Grievances. Imagine, if you will, that Pete Townshend’s brain (circa Who’s Next) was switched out with Paul Westerburg’s (circa Pleased to Meet Me) and the next Replacements record was produced by Jon Landau (you know, the guy that did all those Springsteen records). The Monitor is just about as epic as three-chord rock can get while still managing to retain an undercurrent of conflict, self-loathing, and (here’s the reason it all works) humility.

What it comes down to is that The Monitor, more than anything else, is an exuberant celebration of American culture, warts and all. And if you’ve forgotten that America even had culture, or if you weren’t really ever aware of it in the first place (as was my case), Titus Andronicus are here to remind you. Loudly. No, this isn’t Toby Keith’s America where the good guys all stand in front of a monolithic American flag, where imperfections are glossed over or straight up ignored. Titus Andronicus’s America is “covered in urine and excrement,” its flag is tattered and trampled in mud, and there is no such thing as good guys and bad guys. Their America is also the land that birthed such national heroes as Bruce Springsteen, the Replacements, the Misfits, and the Modern Lovers, a place where battles are fought in DIY basement shows across the country, where standard blues progressions and a shouted chorus can transform a group of strangers into a community. And if that shouted chorus happens to be “The enemy is everywhere!” “You will always be a loser!” or “It’s still us against them!”, then Titus Andronicus are all the better for it, because they’re likely closer to the truth than any patriotic country or pop ballad will ever be. The Monitor may not perfectly represent America either, but they’ve at least got the brains to know that if you’re going to chronicle and embrace this country, conflict needs to be at its core, and gosh darn it, they make quite a case for celebrating that conflict at full volume.

Titus Andronicus - The Monitor, reviewed by Squeri on 2010-02-02T16:03:04-08:00 rating 4.2 out of 5

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