It’s taken me this long to write a post because I’ve been unable to put into words my love for the new Titus Andronicus album “The Monitor”. I have yet to skip a song while listening to the album, even though most of the songs are more than 8 minutes long. It’s that good. The album starts off with an incredible excerpt from Abraham Lincoln’s Lyceum Address:
“At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it?– Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!–All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.
At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide”
It makes me feel American pride and I’m a Canadian. The concept of the album is awesome, a perfectly-utilized civil war theme is consistent throughout. Speeches from Lincoln and abolitionists are interspersed between tracks like “Four score and seven” and “The Battle of Hampton Roads”. But this isn’t like some sort of civil war re-enactment with weird men in stuffy suits shooting fake guns. Each song builds into some incredible melodies and kick-ass riffs. The vibe of the whole album reminds me of Bright Eyes with more of an edge (sort of like in his song “Hot Knives“). And the lyrics, the lyrics are just incredible. Off the top of my head, this has become a favourite:
“I’ve been called out, cuckolded, castrated, but I survived. I am covered in urine and excrement but I’m alive. And there’s a white flag in my pocket, never to be unfurled. Though with their hands ’round my ankles, they bring me down for another swirl. And they tell me, ‘take it easy buddy – it’s not the end of the world'”
I cannot state this strongly enough. Listen to this album. Don’t skip a song because you don’t like how it starts or because the vocals initially rub you the wrong way. You will not be disappointed. This album is phenomenal.
… Oh and did I mention that they’re touring right now? Here’s the album closer “The Battle of Hampton Roads” and just wait for the mystery instrument to kick in at the end. It blew me away. Literally. I fell down and had scrapes on my elbows resembling a bike accident after listening to this song.
“And so now when I drink, I’m going to drink to excess,
And when I smoke, I will smoke gaping holes in my chest,
And when I scream, I will scream until I’m gasping for breath,
And when I get sick, I will stay sick for the rest,
Of my days peddling hate out the back of a Chevy Express,
Each one a fart in the face of your idea of success”