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Titus Andronicus’ Most Lamentable Review: Into The Silence And Beyond

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One song away from intermission (previous reviews are here and here) for Titus Andronicus’ The Most Lamentable Tragedy, then let’s take a quick look back and move forward to Act II… and you know what that one song is..

Meanwhile I read Alexis Petridis’ The Guardian review (here), at its best when Petridis is comparing the songs to other songs, this bit here: “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”. The Boomtown Rats reference is especially interesting,installing the Rats, considered both a child of Thin Lizzy, and an Irish Bruce Springsteen, back in the day, Geldof makes more than sense in the midst of the Irish Jersey mess we’re in.

Where Petridis loses me is in his naff pans of a couple of songs and also, his sense of the rock opera is all too much… I dunno if Patrick demanding an hour and a half of our time overdoes it, not with this many rewards, and I don’t think you want to cut it to save people time: though I do agree it will be remembered mostly by its best moments.

13 – More Perfect Union – Its title drops a letter from The Monitor opening track and starts as an Irish lament. The song is pure exposition, it sets up the bad seed brother who leaves to New York and meets his twin, our manic depressive hero. The penny whistle melody is downbeat and gray and when it gets louder with its horrifying “Oh, and I will neither forgiven nor forget the awful day that they came and killed our children, and they took our land away” and a transitional very Who in high martyrdom (Patrick has namechecked Quadrophenia, but I hear Tommy) and once the band starts jamming out to a pure hard rock riff plus orchestra for the last three minutes, I personally wish they’d do it  play it for 30 minutes or more – A-

So that is part one: A manic depressive wakes up, goes back to sleep, wakes up again, meets his double. The double is wayward son of Eire in New York City. Three great songs and nothing I don’t like. Apparently, when you meet your double you die and I guess we’ll find out more later. I already prefer it to Local Business. Stickles has claimed, not inaccurately, Lament continues from that template, it does but its worse moments don’t stand out. I appreciate the peek right inside another person’s psyche, especially one as interesting as this guy. This is actually, less superego  versus id and more empathy to the nth degree.: we aren’t all that different and really, know thyself, dude.

As for the lyrics? Here is the first verse of the first song (the first lyric we hear)

The days start with an earthquake
The bed shakes until it breaks
And I hate to be awake
Most days start with a dull ache
Enough weight to crush my face
And I hate to be awake

So, yeah, not exactly “don’t dictate, dictate to me” but still about as powerful as you are gonna get.

Grade for side one? A-

14 – Intermission – 7 minutes of silence and silence is a real power as John Cage taught us back in the day.  Kanye used it brilliantly on Yeezus, everything just stops for a moment (they use it sublimely in advertising, they go silence loud to grab your attention). Lennon and Ono put silence to even better use than all of the above on their best experimental album,  Unfinished Music No. 2: Life With the Lions. The track before was the heartbeat of their baby in the last five minutes before Ono miscarried John Lennon Ono II at  Queen Charlotte’s Hospital in London. What followed was two minutes of silence. As for”Intermission”?, I think it is a mistake and for an obvious reason, it starts you skipping songs and gains the album nothing I’ve noticed – No Grade

15 – Sun Salutation – Summer’s here and the time is right for… Catholic prayers with all glory to Ra…things like this is why you make rock operas – B

16 –  (S)HE SAID/(S)HE SAID – Obviously, my reference to Irishman John Lennon wasn’t entirely random. This is a full steam rocker, and sexual conquest and the flowering of a romance song as our hero goes to a club and tries to get laid. What is interesting is that, Titus Andronicus have to the best of my knowledge never written about sex  before (a coupla lines here and there but that’s it). Only Arcade Fire comes to mind right this second as another band that does not write about sex and romance.

17 – Funny Feeling – I love Titus never more then when  the entire band is charging right at you as on this brilliant song, which sounds like The Falls “Stepping Out” and is a fullscale love and romance track. Another great song and the second half is off with a bang…

Next: Do Titus come a cropper with the Siobhan song and the Pogues cover?

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