Critical Voices: Titus Andronicus, Local Business

October 25, 2012

Titus Andronicus derives its name from a lesser-known Shakespeare play about bloodlust and revenge set in the final years of the Roman Empire. In keeping with this namesake, the indie-punk band never shies away from the themes of violence or aggression in their songwriting or production. Local Business, the outfit’s third album, is no different—it’s wonderfully frenetic.

Starting with “Ecce Homo,” a guitar-heavy track whose title pays homage to Pontius Pilate and Nietzsche, Local Business feels like an extended rant. Instead of constructing songs around catchy choruses, Titus Andronicus chooses strings of belligerent verses, interjecting a chorus here and there and relying on the screaming guitar and like-sounding vocal style to bring everything together into a cohesive album. From “My Eating Disorder” to “Tried to Quit Smoking,” Business covers a diverse subject matter, but compiled lyrical frustration produces something wholly complete.

After the heavy hitting tracks at the beginning of the record, Business eventually settles into a growling groove. By “In a Small Body” the music has eventually slowed to a relaxed yet equally angsty pace before the final push on “Tried to Quit Smoking,” which, at over nine minutes long, borders on epic. With tension slowly building over the first few minutes before crescendoing and fading into silence, the final sounds of Local Business perfectly mirror the notes on the album’s opener—a satisfyingly round finish to the listening experience.

Artfully combining diverse musical influences, Business has it all. The melodies are catchy, the layers are subtle, and the tracks seamlessly blend into each other. Debating whether a track is more Springsteen or Blink is essentially pointless—can anyone monopolize anguish?

Lyrically, Titus Andronicus fails to stretch itself beyond its sophomore effort The Monitor, but the band still satisfies with a mocking gravitas: “Okay, I think by now we’ve established/Everything is inherently worthless/And there’s nothing in the universe.”

Following in the footsteps of its Shakespearean namesake, Local Business achieves a near-violent quality as it broaches or, more aptly, tramples—every issue under the blood-red sun—but violence has never sounded so good. This potpourri packs a punch of skillful guitar riffs and screeching syllables that seamlessly fuse together into a satisfying final product.

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