With much of the scuzzy feedback that was to be found on Titus Andronicus' previous albums stripped away, it's easier to appreciate what has always been there, lurking in the smog. On 'The Most Lamentable Tragedy', the New Jersey sextet sound vital and lead singer Patrick Stickles sounds charged with a potent mix of desperation and hope.
This is even more impressive if we take into account the fact that 'The Most Lamentable Tragedy' is a rock opera. Yes, a rock opera: the gargantuan task that has ruined the credibility of many a band. 29 tracks spread over 94 minutes is no mean feat, and it gladdens us to say that Stickles and his band have successfully run the gauntlet. The band's decision is laced with both genius and madness.
This much is unsurprising given that this is the band that stretched a song suite called 'No Future' over three consecutive albums. The 'Hero', our protagonist, lives in an unnamed town. He struggles with his demons and is eventually confronted by a doppelgänger that begins to guide him, eventually pushing him away from vice. An extended allegory for depression, the keen observer might suggest. Stickle has indeed struggled with manic depression and previous albums have dealt with these themes, albeit in a less subtle manner than on 'The Most Lamentable Tragedy'. Here though, his personal issues no longer take centre stage, but become microcosms representative of greater issues. Thematic restraint meets rabid punk, resulting in the band's most successful LP thus far.
Aside from the charmingly DIY artwork ('The Airing Of Grievances' featured a similar style) the album is a well crafted, polished endeavour - or at least as polished as a rough-round-the-edges punk band like Titus Andronicus can be. Sad, contemplative and euphoric in equal measure, 'The Most Lamentable Tragedy' is a true triumph.
Words: Alex Green
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