You’ve really got to root for Titus Andronicus? They’ve taken on their own approach to working within the indie rock community, and regardless of pitfalls of other acts, they always seem to come out on their own terms. Local Business is their third LP, and while it’s story line may not be as grandiose as The Monitor, it impresses greatly, musically and lyrically.
For me, I almost always notice the music first, nowadays. Perhaps that’s why the guitar line that opens “Ecce Homo” stuck out to me the most on my first listen; it’s almost got a Replacements feel to it, cutting edge, yet relaxed. Then, of course, Patrick enters the picture delivering his stance as a man looking on from the outside, angry about the way things have played out, for himself and others. Personally, by the fist song, I’m already fascinated by the clarity of the vocals, but what’s stuck out a great deal is the musical shift. This album is all about a more classic rock n’ roll sound. The guitars are turned up, as usual, but they take on less of a post-rock feel, especially if you look at the second track on Local Business, “Still Life with Hot Deuce on Silver Platter.”
That being said, I also think there’s a harder edge punk rock ethos laying beneath the songwriting. Sure, that’s always been present, but in listening to a track like “Titus Andronicus vs The Absurd Universe” you can tell by the ferocity in the vocal delivery and the ringing guitar that this is all about creating music that’s in your face; it’s brash and lyrical, yet there’s still melody lurking. Even “Upon Viewing Oregon’s Landscape with the Flood of Detritus” has a subdued element of punk rock, although the guitar line that cuts through the number provides a more sentimental classic rock element. Oh, and you can sing along too, rather easily…a staple of punk’ simplicity, and Patrick Stickles’s songwriting.
For me, the heart and soul of Titus Andronicus still lives in their mini-opus rock numbers. “I Tried to Quit Smoking” is something I can relate to on a personal level, but the slow start of Patrick singing over piano and minimal drumming draws listeners in from the start, and that sentiment stays with you, that is until the band begins to sort of dial it in near the latter half with some noodling on various instruments. It also provides a good counterpoint to “My Eating Disorder,” which appears earlier on Local Business. This one’s almost as long, but it’s more of a bar-room brawler, giving you a bit of a shuffle whilst moving in and out of the track itself. One listen and you’ll be anticipating the night when you get to scream “my eating disorder is inside me” at the top of your lungs.
Now, if you’re looking for the Monitor Pt. 2, you’re not going to find it here. Honestly, that’s a good thing, considering the world raved about that album. It shows me, as well as other fans, that the group’s still sticking to their guns, still operating on their own terms. They don’t need to recreate themselves, and they don’t need to sound like Titus Andronicus. They can forage new territory on their own, yet still come out with incredible songs that beg to be sung in the live setting or at the top of your lungs while you’re screaming down the highway. Local Business is a good record. Hands down.