Titus Andronicus: Airing of Grievances CD review (Blurt)

It’s easy to be distracted by the squalling sturm und drang of this New Jersey combo’s flailing-arms-and-feedback approach; with songs that burst out of the gate as fully-formed explosions of personal distress, searching for melody and structure seems like something of a futile endeavor. Yet, not only do those two things exist on this album, they provide the foundational structure that allows frontman Patrick Stickles to embark upon his jags of emotional upheaval.

A track like “No Future, Pt. 1” succeeds because of its dramatic arc, and the jangling open chords of “Upon Viewing Brueghel’s ‘Landscape with the Fall of Icarus”  might be mistaken for American roots-rock were it not for the blistering distortion. Still, when the chorus of the song “Titus Andronicus” is nothing more than a repeatedly shouted harangue of “your life is over,” it’s clear that Titus Andronicus is a band most concerned with exorcising some demons.

And exorcise they do. These fuzzed-out reconsiderations of garage-rock are practically bleeding from the eyes with the strain of squeezing all that angst through overworked amps and spit-soaked microphones; the result is an art-damaged record that’s equally beholden to shoegazing’s volume and punk’s aggressive inversions of rock traditions.

Airing of Grievances was originally self-released by the band nearly a year ago as a limited/promotional edition, followed by an “unlimited” edition on Troubleman Unlimited. Now, following a remastering job, it’s available worldwide courtesy XL Recordings.

Standout Tracks: “Albert Camus,” “Arms Against Atrophy”

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