TITUS ANDRONICUS play Lee's Palace on November 27. See listing. Rating: NNNN
On their third album, New Jersey's Titus Andronicus pare back the lush instrumentation and big concepts of their previous work in favour of capturing the raw power of their legendarily raucous live shows. Surprisingly, this approach results in a much bigger sound than they managed to get before, even without all the bagpipes, cellos, keyboards and guest musicians. Sure, all those embellishments gave us something to talk about and did set them apart from your average garage punk band, but their appeal has always been their unhinged manic energy.
There's nothing terribly innovative going on here, but their unguarded passion is irresistible. It might seem cheap to compare a scrappy New Jersey band to Bruce Springsteen, but there's undeniably some common ground. And while the Boss's attempts to bring Celtic vibes to his sound have often felt awkward, these guys pull it off without coming across like those fake Irish punk bands that frat boys love to binge drink to. Mind you, Titus Andronicus do seem like a great soundtrack to excessive beer consumption, but in a more honest and soulful vein than those bands.
Top track: My Eating Disorder