Titus Andronicus - Local Business | Album Review | By Volume

Have you ever thought how young we’d be if we never ever went to school? A Sunny Day In Glasgow - Bye Bye Big Ocean (The End)

Titus Andronicus

Local Business

The same whiskey — just with a little more water in the glass.

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Author: on October 25, 2012
XL Recordings
September 23, 2012

Okay, I think by now we’ve established / Everything is inherently worthless / And there’s nothing in the Universe. / With any kind of objective purpose” is a hell of a way to open a record. Though to be fair this is flowing out the gregarious gab of one Patrick Stickles, the seemingly infinitely angry front-beast of Jersey wide-eyed punkers Titus Andronicus and it would not be the first time he’s been this bleak. Gems of sturdy self-esteem in the forms of: “Throw my guitar down on the floor! / No one cares what I’ve got to say anymore!” and “You will always be a loser!” have been unveiled in the past. The most curious thing about the former quote from his band’s eponymous song is how untrue that sentiment has revealed itself to be since the release of their debut The Airing of Grievances (2008). Though to view this personal indignation as a forbiddingly prophetic outlook on Stickle’s own, heavily introspected and documented self destruction is not much of a stretch. Local Business for all its connections to the past – in various states of sense – either the band’s own history (many of these tracks, per usual, are years old) or that of their influences (The Boss, The Replacements), this is still a drastically different record that could alienate a fair amount of the band’s fans. But that would be an unfortunate misstep on the part of any dejected Titus devotee; the magic is still there, they’re just so weirdly blatant about it.

If one were to stack Titus Andronicus’ three LPs next to one another Local Business has the best chance to glaringly stick out as the ugly runt. The more cultured song structure, shorter record length, nearly devoid of the rolling fuzz of distortion that glued together each wayward, jagged piece of previous Titus tunes, can ring as something of a farce. This is of course until one whips out a lyric sheet – Local Business is nearly as scrutinizingly introspective and vitriolic as any record the band as produced – you may just have to dig a bit to get there. But Titus Andronicus has never made it easy (twelve-minute punk songs, shredded vocal chords belting intensely personal, diary excerpt lyrics) and the band is seemingly adopting a work-man-like smirk that befits the album’s namesake. Local Business at times can feel like the siren song of a culture slowly regressing into the endless warehouses, packed in boxes, stocked tightly on shelves awaiting either purchase, or death. Though I feel like Stickles and company are instead lifting these beaten souls onto their shoulders in an attempt to muscle through; Local Business for how tame it could initially seem is actually a ravaging wolf, daintily dressed as the town rube and Stickles wears this dunce cap brilliantly.

Now they pass me from hand to hand / Pharmacist to Marlboro Man / Back to pharmacist again, too late!” Stickles exclaims on Local Business’ finest track “My Eating Disorder” wherein Patrick’s rants are allowed a moment to breath and thus his usual gravitas resonates splendidly. “Yes, my body is some prison–why else keep it filled with poison? / No reason to celebrate, forget the milkshakes, Mom — it will take / More than a spoonful of sugar for me to swallow my pride this time,” he continues, illustrating his own struggles with keeping food down once more providing an extremely piercing light upon Stickles’ personal life. Though this is nothing too unique for Patrick, Local Business truly feels like the first time we’ve been allowed into his hallowed ground without the veil of disguise.

He isn’t rehashing childhood fears and recounting the summer between senior year of high school and beginning college (or not…) as with The Airing Of Grievances. Nor manifesting his own disgust with becoming an adult in a modern United States through sweeping allegories towards the American Civil War as with The Monitor (2010). These tunes come across as quite genuine, like Stickles was actually sitting in a hospital bed, pad and pen in hand following his being struck by lightning crafting what would later become “(I Am The) Electric Man.” Not to insinuate their other records lack heartfelt inspiration, Local Business just provides a distinctly different view of Titus Andronicus. And sure, the first two records had more time to gestate, their poisonous inspirations given adequate time to fester within Stickles’ conscious whereas Local Business seems much more of-the-moment and when you consider this is truly the first time Titus Andronicus has even strove to be current in any fashion, even as the record seems stuck in its own unique period in time. While not as viscerally invigorating as their first two sonic landscapes, the well kept lawn and tasty tea on ice are pretty inviting – and do not worry: the drinks are still spiked.

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