Not Quite Laissez Faire: A Review of Titus Andronicus’ Local Business

 Not Quite Laissez Faire: A Review of Titus Andronicus Local Business

Titus Androniucs – Local Business

“Okay, I think by now we’ve established that everything is inherently worthless, and there is nothing in the universe with any kind of objective purpose.” Thus opens Local Business, the newest record from New Jersey punk band Titus Andronicus, out today on XL Recordings. The record picks up where The Monitor—their flawless Ken Burns-esque Civil War concept record—left off: a nation/central character ravaged by the polarized nature of the contemporary world finally comes to terms with its elemental duality, only to be faced with the next daunting phase of adulthood. Local Business explores the personal reconstruction after a monumental crisis, and how to define responsibility in a world more interested in gross sales than personal integrity. Oh yeah, and guitar solos.

If The Monitor is the punk rock soundtrack of the Civil War—as it most obviously is—Local Business is the Industrial Revolution. As industry continued to spread from the northeast throughout the country and the world, the Western doctrine of capitalism came into its own, finally giving our nation an identity separate from Great Britain ’s little brother. Similarly, after a tumultuous young adulthood, Patrick Stickles and band have found tangible success and buzz, and they now realize they have work to do in order to grow (or just sustain) their presence and reputation. Opting for a more classic pub rock sound and a significantly less overblown recording process, Local Business finds Titus Andronicus establishing their identity within the scene.

 Not Quite Laissez Faire: A Review of Titus Andronicus Local Business

Titus Andronicus: For the People, By the People

The lyric above comes from “Ecce Homo”, the five and change minute thesis of Local Business. Never one to pull any punches, Stickles searches for the root of his discomfort while recognizing that life must go on. With more dough in his pocket and validation from the international music community, he’s left to face his demons alone, with no one left to blame. Just like the title suggests (translated to “Behold the Man,” as said by Pontius Pilate about Jesus Christ), the song is a presentation of his current state, skinny legs and all. “I heard them say the white man created existential angst when he ran out of other problems, because the thing about those problems was, typically, more money would solve them.”

The juxtapositions of self, money and duty continue throughout Local Business, whether he’s “writing manifestos on the back of B.O.A. receipts” or gorging himself after days of self-imposed starvation. The climax of the first half of the record is certainly “Food Fight” and “My Eating Disorder,” which documents Stickles’ Selective Eating Disorder—or as he calls it, Patrick Stickles Disease. Certainly related to his Manic Depression, Stickles suffers from having the pickiest palate, and thus is almost always malnourished (you can read about his struggles with Selective Eating Disorder in his February 2012 interview with Paste Magazine). While a condition of this sort isn’t exactly relatable for most of the general public, “My Eating Disorder” is a terribly poignant song about the confusion that arises from accepting responsibility for one’s actions. And only Titus Andronicus can turn a violent vomiting bout into a killer series of guitar solos. “Nobody answers for me now, nobody else’s job to figure out why I’m scared to open up my mouth, why there’s so many things I can’t allow.”