Thirteen years after the first time I saw Titus Andronicus live on stage, it is time to anoint them the best rock and roll band of the 21st century (so far). The problem for leader Patrick Stickles is that the first two albums he released were so great (The Monitor is a serious contender for best album of the 2010s) that everything after it feels a little not as good, even an undeniable stroke of genius like 2015’s The Most Lamentable Tragedy isn’t quite.
Still, if you forget those first time albums there is no denying the consistent, punk dreamo classicism of Patrick and even if you include them, on stage their only equal is another Jersey boy, Bruce Springsteen.
It has been a long pandemic and Titus Andronicus returned last year with their The Monitor tenth anniversary tour in late 2021 (they tugged it in before variant Omicron went on its own tour). In June the band released an anthem take on original Oi band, Cock Sparrer’s “We’re Coming Back” – a sort of loud and banging take on a loud and banging but a little less frilly original.
Today, Titus Andronicus’s “(I’m) Screwed” , the first original composition since 2019, reaches us with a video of the band on a flatbed truck performing for New Jersey’s version of Middle America, it is Titus 101, a rhythmic burst of neo-punk with guitar frills and hints of prog. With Patrick at the back of the truck he seems one step behind him and disaster will sneak but the entire band is under complete control and the solo, a great one, finds the band freed from their moors and embracing the paranoia of a lifetime.
It is great, of course. It always is. That’s why they are the greatest rock band of the 21st Century.
We’re Coming Back – Titus Andronicus – A-
(I’m) Screwed – Titus Andronicus – A-
I was happier because I knew I was happy
a snapshot of big hits and high tides, mostly high tides.
There is just a lot to love
the sound seemed to erupt from every side of the room
still on top
“danceable music for the end of days”
contracts its world in Nashisms
let’s take what we are offered
It’s the music, stupid