Much of the ever-expanding popularity of New Jersey’s Titus Andronicus comes from the band’s dedication to delivering prophetic and somewhat controversial messages by way of punk-influenced songs. On its newest release Local Business, the band hasn’t forgotten its duty to forewarn the masses, as all of the songs live up to the album title: Here you’ll find opinionated lyrics regarding consumerism, a lifestyle many of us have become accustomed to and have grown to love.
Opening the album with “Ecce Homo,” the harsh, depressing lyrics of vocalist Patrick Stickles immediately wrap themselves around the listener’s mind with the basic philosophy of anti-consumerism: “OK, I think that now we’ve established everything is inherently worthless/And there’s nothing in the universe with any kind of objective purpose.” While Stickles attempts to promote anti-consumerism statements through the songs and their lyrics, it seems he occasionally does so in an almost ironic manner. Several of the melodies on the album come off as extremely upbeat and happy-go-lucky, making it difficult for many listeners to appreciate the seriousness and dedication of Stickles’s lyrical craft. The track “Upon Viewing Oregon’s Landscape With The Flood Of Detritus” incorporates jangling guitar riffs, sleigh bells and the glockenspiel, reminiscent of Christmas TV ads, while the instrumental interlude “Food Fight” merely brings to mind the comical imagery of grade school children chucking burgers and pizza across the cafeteria. While this could possibly be a statement of destroying mass-production systems, some will view the track as just another mosh-pit-initiating groove.
Fortunately for Titus Andronicus, several songs on Local Business drive home the album’s main objective. “My Eating Disorder,” an eight-minute criticism on the subject of the song’s metaphorical title, comes off as a roller coaster ride of musical styles. Consisting of clanking piano melodies alongside wailing glam-rock guitar solos, the song’s narrator describes the dilemmas he faces with his “eating disorder” being exacerbated by outside influences. Ending the track with a punk-rock breakdown, Titus Andronicus drives home the anti-consumerist message with the repeated line “Spit it out,” hoping the listeners, too, will spit out bad tendencies.
Although fighting consumerism with more consumerism (the issue of hypocrisy covered in “Ecce Homo”), Titus Andronicus valiantly leads the battle against mass-product indulgence on Local Business. Whether you are listening to the album for its monetary-political messages or just hoping to enjoy the band’s indie-punk sound, Local Business will sate both sides.