Listening to Titus Andronicus’ debut record, The Airing of Grievances, it’s not hard to believe that the band hails from the idyllic suburban wasteland of Glen Rock, N.J. Although the city is a mere 20 miles away from the crippling massivity of good old NYC, Titus Andronicus’ music sounds like it was written even farther away, in a land where it’s acceptable for an indie-rock band to unironically yell, “fuck everyone, fuck you,” and namedrop its public high school like a rapper gives a shoutout to his block.
Free from the shackles of self-consciousness that bind the
writing hands of many an indie-rock city slicker, Titus Andronicus has penned a
record that effortlessly filters teenage angst through the budding
maturity of post-collegiate life. The Airing of Grievances,
newly reissued on XL, covers many of indie rock's
stylistic permutations, from the bouncy echoes of power pop on "No
Future Pt. 2: The Day After No Future" to the laconic, Neutral Milky
horns that close "Fear and Loathing in Mahwah, NJ." Set against this
background, lead singer Patrick Stickles half sings, half screams about
self-hatred and death's sweet, sweet embrace, a formula that has
earned the band more than a few emo comparisons. But it's hard to deride Stickles for wearing his heart on his
sleeve when he sounds so genuine. The anger and fatalism he
describes in breathless detail on tracks like "My Life Outside of the
Womb" and "Arms Against Atrophy" is anything but contrived. It's sincere,
even. And a little sincerity couldn't hurt indie rock right now.