|The Most Lamentable Tragedy|
Titus Andronicus — The Most Lamentable Tragedy
•≡• Patrick Stickles, frontman a skladatel Titus Andronicus, dělá ten druh punku, kdy pravděpodobně může jít o čtení Lincolnovy biografie nebo Nietzscheho pojednání, zatímco Hüsker Dü hraje v pozadí. This is music that wants to be read as a text, and deserves to be. The fact that it comes to us in an era of smartphones and shortening attention spans only serves to underscore its audacity. I’m reminded, once more, of Titus Andronicus the play. It’s messy, it’s ugly, it’s borderline barbaric. And yet it endures. Whether or not the final, sustained note of “A Moral” is the last we hear of Stickles and co., their career can be summed up in three words: Titus Andronicus forever. (COLLIN BRENNAN)
Location: Glen Rock, New Jersey, United States
Album release: July 28, 2015
Record Label: Merge Records
01. The Angry Hour 1:41
02. No Future Part IV : No Future Triumphant 4:53
03. Stranded (On My Own) 4:23
04. Lonely Boy 5:21
05. I Lost My Mind ( +@ ) 4:18
06. Look Alive 0:33
07. The Magic Morning 1:00
08. Lookalike 0:47
09. I Lost My Mind ( DJ ) 1:35
10. Mr. E. Mann 3:48
11. Fired Up 4:04
12. Dimed Out 2:56
13. More Perfect Union 9:39
14. [intermission] (Silent Track – No Audio) 1:17
15. Sun Salutation 0:55
16. (S)HE SAID / (S)HE SAID 9:11
17. Funny Feeling 3:23
18. Fatal Flaw 3:27
19. Please 1:14
20. Come On, Siobhán 3:43
21. A Pair of Brown Eyes 3:16
22. Auld Lang Syne 1:45
23. I’m Going Insane (Finish Him) 1:57
24. The Fall 0:46
25. Into The Void (Filler) 4:36
26. No Future Part V : In Endless Dreaming 4:40
27. [seven seconds] (Silent Track – No Audio) 0:07
28. Stable Boy 6:51
29. A Moral 0:30
Essential Tracks: “Dimed Out”, “More Perfect Union”, and “Come On, Siobhán”
•≡• Patrick Stickles — lead vocals, guitar (2005–present)
•≡• Eric Harm — drums, backing vocals (2007–present)
•≡• Julian Veronesi — bass, backing vocals (2011–present)
•≡• Adam Reich — guitar, keyboards, backing vocals (2012–present)
•≡• Jonah Maurer — guitar (2013–present)
•≡• Elio DeLuca — piano, keyboards (2015–present; 2008–2015 session)
•≡• The Most Lamentable Tragedy [hereafter TMLT] is the fourth studio album by Titus Andronicus [hereafter +@] and the band’s debut for Merge Records. A rock opera in five acts, it will see release on July 28, 2015, as a digital download, double CD, and triple LP.
•≡• The central narrative of TMLT (“a work of fiction,” claims singer/songwriter Patrick Stickles) concerns an unnamed protagonist whom we meet in deep despair. Following an encounter with his own doppelgänger (an enigmatic stranger, identical in appearance though opposite in disposition), long held secrets are revealed, sending our protagonist on a transformative odyssey, through past lives and new loves, to the shocking revelation that the very thing that sustains him may be the thing to destroy him.
•≡• TMLT was produced by frequent collaborator Kevin McMahon and +@ lead guitarist Adam Reich. The core band is rounded out by the long–standing rhythm section of Eric Harm (drums) and Julian Veronesi (bass) plus rookie guitarist Jonah Maurer. Joining in throughout are pianist Elio DeLuca and violinist Owen Pallett, beside a cast of guests representing some of New York’s most exciting bands (The So So Glos, Baked, Bad Credit No Credit, Lost Boy?, etc.).
•≡• TMLT is both the crown jewel of the band’s discography and the legend that contextualizes their entire body of work. It reveals that +@ are what hardcore fans have said they are for years, and what the world must now recognize them to be: not merely the greatest rock and roll band of this era, but one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time.
Alexis Petridis | Thursday 23 July 2015 15.00 BST | SCORE: ***
•≡• As an example of how punk has changed over the years, the lot of the concept album takes some beating. Once, it was held to be redolent of unconscionable self–importance and grandiosity. Notwithstanding the existence of Sham 69’s That’s Life — with its gorblimey dialogue between tracks and guest appearance from Miss Brahms off Are You Being Served? — it was the epitome of everything the genre had set out to demolish. A degree of consternation and mockery was provoked when US hardcore trio Hüsker Dü released the double concept album Zen Arcade in 1984: in the process earning themselves a place on the hitlist of The Thing That Only Eats Hippies, according to a subsequent single by snarky punks the Dead Milkmen.
•≡• But these days, you can’t move for punk bands making concept albums. Fucked Up’s David Comes to Life, a self–styled “musical” complete with unreliable narrators and meta–narrative plot devices, occasioned no hand–wringing or fury whatsoever on release in 2011. The British band Fall of Efrafa, meanwhile, released The Warren of Snares, a trilogy of albums based on Watership Down: anyone attempting to perform that on stage at The Vortex in 1977 would clearly have needed breathing apparatus to prevent themselves drowning in an ocean of infuriated gob.
•≡• And then there’s The Most Lamentable Tragedy by New Jersey’s Titus Andronicus, a triple album “rock opera” that frontman Patrick Stickles has described as “melding elements of philosophy, psychology and science fiction”, partly inspired by Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy and Kay Redfield Jamison’s book on manic depressive illness and the artistic temperament, Touched With Fire. It is over an hour and a half long, and variously takes in a faux–hymn called Sun Salutation, tracks consisting entirely of silence, labelled as “intermissions”, a version of Auld Lang Syne, covers of songs by the Pogues and Daniel Johnston, a portentous synth instrumental that apparently functions as an “awakening sequence for Act II” and a concluding 30 seconds of ambient drone ostentatiously entitled A Moral. Frankly, it makes Titus Andronicus’ earlier concept album, 2010’s US civil war–themed The Monitor, look like a self–released 7” with a photocopied sleeve featuring eight tracks in nine minutes.
•≡• The plot is completely incomprehensible without the aid of copious notes. You could argue that’s a failure of songwriting — if you set out to tell a story, it should be conveyed in the action, not a load of footnotes — but in absolute fairness to Titus Andronicus, it has been ever thus with rock operas since the very first one, The Pretty Things’ SF Sorrow, which arrived with a booklet containing explicatory notes that frequently went on longer than the actual song lyrics they were explicating. In fact, The Most Lamentable Tragedy’s copious notes may well be more copious than any before them: over on the website Genius.com, the band have posted 145 annotations to the album’s lyrics. On some songs, literally every line comes complete with an addendum, whether it needs one or not. “‘Let’s rock!’ — an impromptu ad–lib.” “‘Pounding the trouser snake’ — masturbating: an unproductive, self–indulgent exercise.” You can say that again.
•≡• It’s hard to know how seriously to take this kind of thing. On the one hand, the album’s story is based in Stickles’s own experience of a nervous breakdown and depressive illness, and the singer doesn’t appear to be a man much given to flippancy: during one recent interview explaining the album, he burst into tears. On the other, taken in isolation from the accompanying storyline and the stuff about Nietzsche, his lyrics are often comically bathetic or slyly witty. “And everywhere you turn there are hundreds of humans,” he sings on Lonely Boy, “all opening the door and saying, ‘Hello, Newman’” — another Seinfeld reference to file alongside the title of their debut album, The Airing of Grievances.
•≡• The confusion is compounded by the fact that, for all the album’s incredible pretension, the music at its centre is remarkably unpretentious. What Titus Andronicus are really good at is taut, punchy rock’n’roll in a variety of styles, ranging from orchestrated heartland stadium rock — unshackled from the album, Fired Up or Fatal Flaw are strong enough songs to be vast crossover hits — to raging, abrupt hardcore. •≡• A cynical voice might suggest that you could have heard a lot of the styles they essay during a chart countdown in 1978 — over the course of the album, they variously sound not unlike Stiff Little Fingers (No Future Part IV: No Future Triumphant), something vaguely pub rockish that might have come out on Stiff or Chiswick (Lonely Boy) and, remarkably, the Boomtown Rats: the latter are not a name hip US alt–rock bands have exactly been queuing up to drop over the last few decades, but it’s really no stretch at all to imagine Bob Geldof hamming his way through I Lost My Mind on Top of the Pops. But if it often seems remarkably redolent of the year in which, as Simon Bates would have put it, “we lost Keith Moon but gained this from the Dooleys,” there’s no getting around the strength and potency of their songs. At its best, The Most Lamentable Tragedy really careers along, carrying the listener with it.
•≡• The problems come when the band try to stretch themselves. The synth interludes and faux–hymns are one thing, but the two lengthy songs at the album’s centre are something else entirely: the former are over and done with quickly, the latter are interminable. More Perfect Union starts out well enough, like the Pogues at their most sullen, but then develops a fatal case of the epic affectations: an orchestra appears, the final five minutes are given over to a selection of folky riffs played in a selection of styles, including Queenish pomp and rattling hardcore. There’s a decent punk song, blessed with a metronomic, krautrock–like rhythm and more witty lyrics, at the heart of (S)HE SAID/(S)HE SAID, but it just keeps going on and on: slowing into a lumbering, proggy riff, devolving into a hushed ambient interlude with pained vocals and cooing harmonies, squandering its power as it goes. The sense of decent ideas being widly over–inflated looms large.
•≡• You could say that about the album as whole. You don’t have to have a particularly short attention span to find its sheer length wearying. While everything clearly has its place in Stickles’ scheme of things, a more detached observer could happily lose at least half an hour of music from The Most Lamentable Tragedy — including the cover of the Pogues’ A Pair of Brown Eyes, which bafflingly replaces the original song’s gorgeous melody with a less interesting one — and sharpen its impact in the process. The people Stickles says he wants to touch — “kids like me, to let them know they’re not alone” — might be impressed by the all the ostentation, but it’s hard not to think they might be more easily reached with a more direct approach. And that may be the real irony of The Most Lamentable Tragedy. Titus Andronicus have set out to make an album that demands the listener’s full concentration, that can only be fully appreciated if you sit there rapt and attentive, explanatory notes in hand. It’s a laudable aim, but what they’ve ended up with instead is an album that fits the age of the playlist and the individual track purchase, its good songs ripe for cherry–picking and tearing out of context. •≡• http://www.theguardian.com/
BY COLLIN BRENNAN | ON JULY 23, 2015, 6:01AM | SCORE: A
By Matt Williams | Published Jul 22, 2015 | Score: 9
By Jeremy Gordon | July 27, 2015 | Score: 8.1
By Mack Hayden | July 21, 2015 | 11:38am | Score: 9.1
Photo: For all this album’s incredible pretension, the music at its centre is remarkably unpretentious … Titus Andronicus (Patrick Stickles at front). Photograph: Matthew Greeley
NJ's Titus Andronicus played a tour kickoff show this past Thursday at Hoboken's Maxwell's. The sold–out show was the first of a month long national tour with Free Energy. If you missed the Maxwell's show, the tour will wrap up Saturday, September 25th at Webster Hall in NYC. Tickets are still available and can be picked up at Ticketmaster.
This past March Titus Andronicus released their Civil War themed, 2nd studio album titled The Monitor. The record has since been well received by critics and fans. The growing indie rock group recently appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. If you'd like to check out videos from a past Maxwell's show and see how far the band has come both performance wise and fan–base wise you can do so at the Star Ledger.
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