Posted on November 27th, 2012 (10:30 am) by Mark Schiffer

Titus Andronicus have been receiving Bright Eyes comparisons since their debut, so why stop now? Local Business, released October 23rd on XL, is their Cassadaga: it is bright, fun, and enjoyable, but seemingly lacks any of what made The Airing of Grievances and The Monitor truly engaging albums. The lyrics aren't missing any of the “fuck the world and your beer” punk theatrics they have thus far been known for. Rather, they are rarely paired with anything besides rather by-the-numbers stompers. What made their previous work so fascinating was the aural assault distinguishing the experience of listening to their albums from any others. There have been few modern bands who have released albums as ideologically loaded and musically insistent – albums with the feel of a drunk, vaguely insane man grabbing you by the lapel, spouting nonsense only making sense after the third beer. To see them make the transition from this elevated level of music-making to the rather staid bar-band feel present on Local Business is devastating for IYS, and in fact makes it difficult to judge this admittedly perfectly enjoyable album on its own terms.

Despite this caveat, it is undeniable that Local Business does contain its share of driving, involving moments – this is Titus Andronicus after all. “My Eating Disorder” is another one of their patented 8-minute marathons, which proved to be a strength of Titus's on The Monitor's “A Pot In Which to Piss” and “Four Score And Seven.” Although this one proves a bit less dynamic than their previous efforts at first listen, the guitar groove it builds upon for the first 4 minutes almost feels motorik. And, during the breakdown of the second half, the band builds their music to a majestic level not seen since the peak of “No Future Part One,” from their debut.

Other highlights include the involving trifecta of rock songs opening Local Business, “Ecce Homo,” “Still Life With Hot Deuce and Silver Platter,” and “Upon Viewing Oregon's Landscape With the Flood of Detritus.” These tracks all epitomize the driving Springsteenisms and ideologically loaded devil-may-care attitude the best of their previous work has contained in full, and they show the band has not lost "it" - whatever that may be - despite whatever problems arise in this album.

Those troubled by the simplistic “Theme From 'Cheers'” from The Monitor will find their fears confirmed with “Food Fight,” a sub-Springsteen rocker which, despite it's brief length, points the way towards a continued decline in subject matter for the band. The lyrics consist of the title shouted over guitar solos. That this transitions into one of the album highlights, “My Eating Disorder” only serves to further alienate the song from the rest of the band's work. “Titus Andronicus VS. the Absurd Universe (3rd Round KO)” seems to want to continue the trend of songs named after the band, but this time they forgot to write a melody, instead substituting more guitar heroics and cries of “I'm going insane.” Memories of nihilistic (or are they?) “Titus Andronicus” and “Titus Andronicus Forever”

Guitar heroics are one of cardinal sins on Local Business, and while they don't necessarily kill the album, they certainly make it less interesting. Here is a band previously subsisting almost entirely on raw energy, intricate (but never clunky) production and samples, and profoundly moving lyrics. To hear them sacrifice all that in favor of “accessibility,” or “fun,” is troubling; however, we can admit it is only troubling on a fanboy level. Despite whatever we at IYS believe Local Business represents for Titus Andronicus, it truly is an likable album, which many people will enjoy. Hopefully Titus Andronicus will have more to say next time.

Track List:
1. Ecce Homo
2. Still Life With Hot Deuce and Silver Platter
3. Upon Viewing Oregon’s Landscape With the Flood of Detritus
4. Food Fight!
5. My Eating Disorder
6. Titus Andronicus VS. the Absurd Universe (3rd Round KO)
7. In a Big City
8. In a Small Body
9. (I Am the) Electric Man
10. Tried to Quit Smoking

Titus Andronicus - Local Business (XL, October 23rd)
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

68 / 100
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