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The Earliest Bird: Top New Recorded Release, Titus Andronicus’s “The Will To Live”Reviewed

Titus Andronicus will never be what we want though they certainly have the skill set to do so, Patrick Stickles was born to follow in the footsteps of fellow Jersey native Bruce Springsteen but he didn’t want to, his aesthetic was too brittle, too bloody minded to follow anywhere. What that means, even on a track by track basis on the bands 7th release The Will To Live, is that not all of it is for everyone.

The punk vibe is still there, very noticeably on the Cock Sparrow cover “We’re Coming Back”, though the album opens with the Tommy The Who style classic rock instrumental “My Mother Is Going to Kill Me” and adds the high melodic rocker riffology of “Baby Crazy” on a track about mental illness and its reflection on American politics. This is as good as Titus gets, the segue from “My Mother Is Going to Kill Me” is a showstopper to “(I’m) Screwed” -one of the best singles of the year, it is really thrilling and will blow you away on stage I guarantee.

But then right in the middle(ish) is prog math rocker “Bridge And Tunnel” and sludgy metal “Grey Goo” and it seems to derail the album, by the time you reach the end Patrick is still writing about his weight illness, and the song’s harp break makes you feel as though there is some Dylan in the make up and also a life stuck in a loop. It is all an off effect, it feels both as a piece and major and also a straight up collection of rock digressions; Patrick is in the middle of planning his wedding per his interview with Vulture (here) but the sound of young lovers do isn’t here, I bet a Black Tie White Noise would make a terrific album for the band. Also, he is mourning the death of his cousin and original Titus member Matt Miller last year but the absence is most apparent in the album’s will to live itself.

Till then, this is their best album since Most Lamentable, maybe they needed the pandemic reload and if so it worked fine.

Grade: A-

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