An Obeliskis the sixth album from Titus Andronicus available here on Half Opaque Gray/Half Black Vinyl, Standard Black Vinyl and CD.
The new album finds the noted rock band under the stewardship of producer and legendary rocker Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü, Sugar, et al.). This trans-generational meeting of the minds has yielded the most immediate, intense, and unadorned Titus Andronicus record to date. Clocking in it a brisk 38 minutes and change, it is also the shortest. Recorded over six breathless days at Steve Albini’s world-renowned Electrical Audio studio in Chicago, An Obelisk presents the sound of Titus Andronicus, rock band, at its most irreducible, as monolithic as the album’s titular monument.
On An Obelisk, as always, Titus Andronicus is led by singer-songwriter Patrick Stickles, now flanked by longtime guitarist Liam Betson and the indomitable rhythm section of R.J. Gordon on bass and Chris Wilson on drums. This iteration of the rock band was established in 2016, and though it featured heavily on 2018’s A Productive Cough, An Obeliskis the first record to showcase this lineup from tip to tail, each moment of each track bearing the distinctive fingerprints of each musician, their particular chemistry carefully honed through extensive touring and rigorous rehearsals. Excepting the background vocals of Ralph Darden (Ted Leo and the Pharmacists), no outside musicians were utilized, leaving ample room for the pummeling drums and slashing guitars to thrive under the notoriously economical hand of Mould.
“Bob Mould is quite the role model to a guy like me,” Stickles confesses, tears of gratitude swelling in his bloodshot eyes. “He has conducted his 40-year career with a remarkable level of integrity and loyalty to his own internal compass. He has often zigged when he was expected to zag, but the consistent excellence of his output has earned him the unconditional trust of his audience. What more could you want than that? What better way, for a guy like me, to learn to actualize such a vision than to get into the man’s workplace and do as he tells me to do?”
Tempting as it may be to label An Obelisk a sort of “back to basics” effort for Titus Andronicus, these so-called “basics” were never presented with such direct and visceral clarity. This is not a return to the band’s roots—this is an excavation of the dirt beneath those roots which will leave no fingernail unsoiled for the band or its audience.
Longtime Titus Andronicus fans may draw a straight line from An Obelisk to the 2012 LP Local Business, but even then, Titus Andronicus could not resist piling on stately pianos and glistening violins. An Obelisk has suffered no such sweetening, as it finds a more courageous and disciplined Titus Andronicus coming back to finish the job, pivoting towards what may look like a familiar direction but breezing well past what may have seemed, at one point, to be its logical destination.
LP+ - Half Opaque Gray/Half Black Vinyl.
LP - Black Vinyl.