If Titus Andronicus had their way, Bittergate would have never occurred. Of course working-class voters are bitter and disgusted with life; who in their right mind wouldn’t be? But what separates The Airing of Grievances from run-of-the-mill emo nihilism — or any other album we’ve heard in years — is the intellectual and musical chops to support the depression.
Between quoting from their namesake and referencing Camus, the Gospel, Breugel, and slew of other sources that probably went over my head, this is a band that’s smart enough to realize how much can be accomplished by not caring (apathy in rock is as old as Iggy Pop). They’ve also backed it up with some ridiculously creative songs so melodic that you’ll forget how depressing the songs actually are.
Two things keep The Airing of Grievances from being an outright masterpiece. One, although the low-budget engineering adds somewhat to the ethos, it takes away from the album’s true genius by hiding some of the best elements of the lyrics and rhythm section. Second, the album is slowed down by 14 minutes of a two-part “No Future” song saga that doesn’t really go anywhere.
Still, the majority of the album is exactly what indie rock has been lacking for over a decade, and this is too crucial a release to get caught up in nitpicking.