Consumer Guide Album
Titus Andronicus: The Monitor [XL, 2010]
Their debut was one of those inexplicable accidents in which some dysfunction-channeling young malcontent recaptures the halcyon days when every punk band had something to say by simple virtue of existing. Usually these malcontents run out of jokes or tunes pretty quick. Seldom if ever do they then channel their dysfunction into, for instance, a concept album that squooshes an interstate breakup saga into a bunch of Civil War references. That's New Jersey returnee Patrick Stickles's project, only channeling is for punks and he's some indigenous emo-Springsteen hybrid--for an hour of rant and roll whose nine tracks range up to 14 minutes, it's more like sloshing or spewing, as intermittent love lookbacks evoke a social despair also contextualized by fabulous spoken epigraphs from Walt Whitman, Jefferson Davis, William Lloyd Garrison, and Young Abe Lincoln. In their spirit Stickles bellows, "None of us shall be saved, every man will be a slave," "After ten thousand years it's still us against them," "The enemy is everywhere." You could complain that these cris de coeur are a loser feeling sorry for himself, and I could admit he's overstating. But at least he's stating. He may be a loser and he may not. Either way, he's not about to quit.