The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Titus Andronicus
Monitor Meryl Trussler , March 16th, 2010 10:48

titus andronicus monitor album artworkTitus Andronicus have taken the American Civil War and turned it into a mini-series with the cast of Skins getting crunk behind the credits. In stovepipe hats. I admire that of Americana, that a war album can be so inextricably a drunken party album. Not that American rock tries to inject joy into suffering; more a kind of helpless, fateful and fitful mania. They don't take suffering lying down. So Titus Andronicus howl "you will always be a loser, you will always be a loser," on 'No Future Part Three: Escape from No Future', over the rollicking scuzz, and, air-punchingly, "and that's OKAY," - and somehow all their sorry syllables seem to issue from the mouth of an all-powerful indie-rock Uncle Sam.

It's not a million miles from Bright Eyes. Sometimes it's not even ten feet from Bright Eyes, when they start spitting and accelerating, or flowering over with horns – like Oberst's 'Road to Joy' but with his acoustic guitar split lengthways by their almost hair-metallic axes. The Monitor occupies the rustic half-house between Oberst and, say, The Mae Shi. If the tableau appears incomplete, cut'n'paste Springsteen up in the corner as the sun and trail Neutral Milk Hotel down there in its sorrowful dirt.

On first listen this thing didn't seem to have "levels" to speak of, for all that relentless go-go-GO of the drums, and the only real respite being the interjected Lincoln speeches, or the prerequisite, sentimental build-ups to said go-go-GOing. On second and third listen one realises how flawless that technique can be. You pick your listener up at level one and take 'em up to eleven and by then they're practically a captive audience. Cunning, cloying Titus Andronicus. And you finish on a fourteen minute ode ('The Battle of Hampton Roads') and you stick bagpipes and marching-band snares halfway into my chest till I physically cannot say call you derivative or boring. Okay. You win the battle. We'll see about the war.

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