Sound — 10
This New Jersey outfit's sophomore album has enough musical genius to make even Springsteen blush a little. Titus Andronicus' "The Monitor" follows some of the same musical ideas from their first album "The Airing of Grievances", but puts on more punk edge and a little cleaner finish. The album mixes together all of the offshoots of punk with some of the musicianship of 70's rock music. Add in the storyline of the Civil War (which even though it isn't clear at times, it makes the listener think about the costs of living in not only a divided country, but 2010 America as well), then you have a recipe for success.
Lyrics — 9
Patrick Stickles and company lase "The Monitor" with lyrics that set the bar for their next album incredibly high. Songs like "A More Perfect Union", "Four Score and Seven", and "To Old Friends and New" offer genius lyrics that make you want to sing/scream along with Stickles with every ounce of your being. With references to past musical leaders ("'cause tramps like us, baby we were born to die", pop culture ("it deserves a better class of criminal, and I'm gonna give it to them"), and important historical figures ("for John Brown's body lies in a'mouldering in the grave..."). The album also even throws in parts of Abraham Lincoln's speeches for good measure. Now granted, Stickle's voice is not one of an opera singer, but it's fitting and is exactly what I would think of as the main character to the story sounding like. And epics such as "The Battle of Hampton Roads" are full-blown stories, making them even more enjoyable. I had trouble figuring out some words to songs, but I've always had a problem with that, so it may just be me.
Overall Impression — 10
"The Monitor" is one of the (if not THE) greatest album of 2010 so far. The lyrics and music are like salt and pepper; they were meant for each other and complement each other perfectly. Songs like "A More Perfect Union", Four Score and Seven", "Theme From 'Cheers'", and "the Battle of Hampton Roads" are where this album shines, even though the album is filled with epic songs. Almost everything about this album makes it a winner. From the Civil War theme, to the punk force, to the musicianship. The only thing I would improve woulf be to change "...And Ever". The song is a great spin-off of "Titus Andronicus Forever", but if feels a lot like filler. I would have liked to see another song in it's place, but it still is a solid little piece. If this album were lost or stolen, I'd buy two more. One to listen to, and one in a safe place so I'll have another if the other is stolen or lost again. Plain and simple, "The Monitor" is one of the best albums you've probably never heard. It's music is raw, it's story is epic, and the final notes make you crave more. Anybody who enjoys good music, new, old, mainstream, or indie, should add this album to their collection. Bravo Titus Andronicus, bravo.