Patrick Stickles decided it was time to start supporting local business. The first two LPs recorded by indie-punks Titus Andronicus were massive constructions with overarching concepts and metaphors and heavy layers over a wash of lo-fi feedback to give you just the right combination of depth and raw harnessed energy. The Airing of Grievances was about as distorted as they come, which made all of the juiciest bits that much more satisfying when they finally made it through that auditory barrier. The Monitor was a concept album about the civil war. On their third full record, Titus Andronicus stripped the whole thing down. They supported Local Business by honouring simplistic punk with a good layer of Stickles that makes it the perfect wind-down for another Titus construction.
There are so many fundamental differences when comparing Local Business to Titus Andronicus’ previous releases. Instead of stretching imagery through an entire record’s worth of tunes, Patrick Stickles removed the disguises surrounding the meaning of his earlier lyrics and wrote in a voice that remains clever and crafty, but is far more accessible. Instead of gigantic arrangements and layering, the band now only consists of guitars, keys, bass, and drums. Instead of creating subtlety through static and volume, the recording is much clearer, with fewer voices in the mix.
I saw Titus one year after the release of The Monitor and again when they were promoting Local Business. Needless to say, both shows left me breathless, coated in sweat, and relieved of any rage I needed to get out of my system. The show just a few months ago reflected the new course that Titus has taken. There were fewer band members and fewer instruments, which changed their sound rather drastically. Either way, Titus is still putting on one hell of a show.
I find it difficult to really decide how I feel about this brand spankin’ new Titus Andronicus sound. I did really love the attention to detail that made their first two albums so unique, but it’s interesting to hear what they did with a Titus-ified version of classic punk rock form. They still give you plenty of countermelodies to sink your ears into, and it just wouldn’t be Titus if they didn’t have any long tracks with all kinds of musical directions and some songs that run seamlessly into each other. In the end, I have to say that I can’t like Local Business as much as I love The Airing of Grievances, but there’s no doubt that Local Business scratches that punk itch that comes crawling up my spine every once in a while.
P.S. the day is coming, the day is near…