Titus Andronicus - The Airing of Grievances
Release Date: January 20, 2009
Record Label: XL Recordings
One of my best friends is a self-proclaimed hipster. She is hypercritical of everything musically, and I disagree with her tastes more often than not. Going into this album, I knew it was indie rock, but I was surprised, albeit excited, that I liked it so much. So, I decided to run it by her to see if she felt the same way, and again to my surprise, she thoroughly enjoyed it. Here I decided that I wasn’t just being biased because the band is local. Their debut album was actually very, very good.
Taking their name from the notoriously violent Shakespeare play, Glen Rock, New Jersey’s Titus Andronicus has crafted an album that is more than your standard indie rock record. The beginning of the first track on The Airing of Grievances is a little misleading. It’s more reminiscent of Midwestern indie from the 90’s, with the vocals buried in the music, but with a resounding “Fuck you,” the album picks up speed, and in a way, encapsulates the style of the album fully: a jam filled indie rock record with some fantastic instrumentation.
Vocally, The Airing of Grievances is brash and abrasive and recalls punk rock. However, this only distinguishes the album even more, adding an incredible amount of intensity, the best example of which would be in “Arms Against Atrophy.” Musically, the instrumentation is fast and upbeat for the most part, but unlike a lump sum of punk songs, Titus Andronicus’ songs tend to span out into quite the enjoyable jam. As for lyrics, most of them are a frenzied stream-of-consciousness assault on everything from drugs to procrastination that are laced together with literary references from Shakespeare to Albert Camus. In fact, some of the band’s strongest lyrics shine through in the track named after the aforementioned French Existentialist, “Albert Camus.” Overall, the album is violent, intense, bizarre, but nonetheless very tight.
It says something when a band is able to captivate a wide audience that includes Pitchfork Media, but Titus Andronicus was able to do just that with The Airing of Grievances. The only downside to making as good of an album as this one is that it’s going to be the challenge of topping it, but if they continue to write music like they do on this album, it will easier for them than most artists.
RIYL: I honestly have no idea how to recommend this in terms of other, similar artists. But if you like punk, garage-punk, or indie, definitely check this out. Hell, just check it out regardless.