Titus Andronicus kicks off The Monitor with Abraham Lincoln's 1838 address "A More Perfect Union: The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions." The whole album, in fact, is a metaphor comparing the American Civil War to the current fractured state of the country, and to keep with the theme, it weaves in bagpipes, rat-a-tat snares and broad ideas about society and war. Fortunately the New Jersey band doesn't take that parallel to such extremes that it mires itself.
Truth is, it's when the songs diverge from the big themes into glass clinking pub ditties about gritty living and despair that the album finds its strength. Singer Patrick Stickles belts out briny, drunken lines like, "And now that I'm older I look back and say...For those dreams are lying in the still of the grave—what the fuck were they for anyway?" His saw-toothed vocals sometimes sound like a mix between Bruce Springsteen and Conor Oberst (a comparison Stickles apparently loathes), but not too derivative.
The guitar work seems a bit uninspired and kazoo-like at times, the saxophone a little gaudy, but the gang vocals give the album bursting energy, especially when the band yells, "The enemy is everywhere!" with so much raw enthusiasm.
Titus Andronicus play the Palace Friday, April 2, with The Thug Nasties and Velcro Kicks at 9 PM. $5.