Retro Review: Titus Andronicus’ The Monitor

Titus Andronicus

The Monitor

Titus andronicus, the monitor, album, cover, art

I am without a computer for the short term, and therefore am unable to download new music.  So, from me, you will get retro reviews and other posts that don’t require me having the pulse on all the new releases.  Hopefully, in the meantime, you can stick with me and enjoy what I have to offer.  My first offering along these lines is Titus’ Andronicus’ 2010 masterstroke The Monitor, which I admittedly never came to fully appreciate until the release of their 2012 album, Local Business.  In preparation for the release of Local Business, I decided I needed to dig back into The Monitor as research.  What I found was at that particular point in my life, The Monitor struck a very different chord with me than it did in 2010.  In short, with all the the great releases of 2012 and all the great pre-2012 music in my iTunes library, The Monitor easily my most listened to album of 2012.

So what makes The Monitor so great?  Well, I’m gonna use one very wordy sentence to describe why:  The Monitor is a punk-rock lyrical opus, complete with flawless and interesting transitions where every song is an anthem.  A lot of artists have had a string of “anthemic” material over the past twenty years, but no artist has jam-packed an entire album with songs that demand you to shout along with the vocalist Patrick Stickles.  Try listening to “Four Score and Seven” a couple times without screaming “I was born to die just like a man” or “Its still us against them”.  I challenge you to listen to “Titus Andronicus Forever” without raging around, breaking furniture, lighting your curtains on fire, and yelling “The enemy is everywhere”.  Alright maybe that one was a little strong, but the feeling is infectious.

Beyond the intricate arrangements made into anthems, Titus Andronicus supplies some of the more thought provoking, raw, and sometimes disturbing lyrics found on the Indie rock landscape.  From breaking away from what society has “planned” for you (“The Battle of Hampton Roads”) to a stark utilitarian mentality (“To Old Friends and New”), The Monitor contains a lot of ideas you don’t hear too often, and if you do hear them, they are often contrived or tongue-in-cheek.  They actually mean this shit, and you get the true sense of that while listening to the album.

New Jersey's finest.
New Jersey’s finest.

Just as the lyrics that are so wonderful can change tone abruptly mid-song, the songs’ arrangements themselves often have two or more parts.  These transitions are what musically differentiates The Monitor from most other offerings out there.  Their long form song structures are like a well-crafted novel, where you are positive the author had each plot element mapped out before he put pen to paper.  It is deliberate, yet infinitely exciting.  There is no such thing as a chorus on The Monitor, just one exciting piece of music leading to the next.

As you can tell, I am enamored with this album.  I can’t tell you exactly why I didn’t fall completely in love with The Monitor from the get go, but I do know I am making up for lost time now.  Give it a listen, or a second try, if you are not on board yet.  And if you don’t completely love it, give it a try in two years.


Can’t Miss:  “A Pot in Which to Piss”, “Four Score and Seven”, “To Old Friends ad New”, “The Battle of Hampton Roads”

Can’t Hit:  None (Note:  I took off the half-point for a a few points where “raw” becomes a little “sloppy” in my opinion)

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