The best thing about hold and release was always the release and Titus Andronicus know this is fact. With them it doesn't sound like a calculated move, their crescendos stem from a natural welling up. A build of pressure, inflation and tension, then the tipping point. Cresting the rise, bathed in sunlight, the pause, then the rocking.
...We know that feeling right? Huge, dynamic rock that doesn't care about cool or un-cool, it just wants to solo and shout choruses. It's determined to speak out, to drink, to stand on tables and have more awesome fun than thought possible, all the while pouring it's heart out. Thats the kind of rocking Titus Andronicus have in store for you on their new album 'The Monitor'. Like a lot of great young bands made up of 23 year olds Titus have got on old sneakers, Husker Du t-shirts and ripped jeans. On 'The Monitor' they sound ready to grab you by the hand and run off down an alley with a stolen keg of beer. To climb over a chain link fence and sit by Springsteen's river and mourn the loss of a bad woman.
The best thing about hold and release was always the holding and The National know this is fact. One bullet with true aim is better than a spray of machine gun fire. Their new album 'High Violet' is immaculately turned out, perfectly placed and absolutely lethal.
The National have made an album for cities at night. The measured tempos never sweat, the arrangements are superbly thought out and entirely organic. If steam coming through grates made music, it would sound like The National.
The lyrics on 'High Violet' are so succinct and singer Matt Berninger has a way with a phrase so poignant by the time he starts asking "What makes you think I enjoy being led to the flood" the goose bumps are up and there seems to be less breathable air in the room. That overwhelming emotion lies at the centre of The National's sound. Here are men beyond their youth, with heart breaks in the past that have steeled their spines for the future. An earned resignation that life and love are hard. But by working the music to such a fine point, by understanding all that has come before is prelude then a glory like 'High Violet' can emerge. Well dressed in polished shoes, ironed slacks and button down shirt topped with a waist coat. Sitting in the restaurant window, eating Chinese food under a neon sign at 2am, mourning the loss of a good woman.
What unites the scruffy punk kids of Titus Andronicus with the dapper and urban 35 year olds of The National is the stakes. It's the same thing that ties together most good music. The thing that links, say, Iggy Stooge with John Coltrane. The real sense that something massive is on the line. Be it love, the future, your body or even your faith. Stakes is high. For Titus it's the thought that the party might end some day. For The National it's the slowly dawning reality that the party may already be over.
How best to vanish these thoughts? To lose yourself in guitars, held and released. To labour over a line until it's perfect and satisfies. To rant and scream through climax after climax. To surrender to what you always knew and relied on, the music. Letting it surge, swell and collapse around you. Sure at first glance Titus Andronicus and The National seem polar opposites but the sheer impact their music has unites them. 'High Violet' and 'The Monitor' both revel their charms and complexities over time and multiple plays but they are both MY GOD first listens as well. Five minutes in and Titus start weaving their guitar solos together, Matt Berninger starts singing 'It Takes and ocean not to break' and you get that tingle. It starts at your shins and works it's way up to the top of your head, it lets us know that something special is happening.