Stickles’ band, which has rotated members at a furious pace since its 2005 inception, conjures any number of guitar-driven acts —from The Replacements and Neutral Milk Hotel to Thin Lizzy and even Springsteen — but does so with a ramshackle grace all its own. The quartet has released three full-length records since 2008, the most recent of which, last year’s Local Business, opens with this existential lyrical throw-down: “OK, by now I think we’ve established/Everything is inherently worthless/That there’s nothing in the universe/With any kind of objective purpose.” Yet Stickles delivers such seemingly pretentious stuff with a joyous kick in his voice, as if he’s laughing into the void.Then there’s “Food Fight!” The track, clocking in at just more than a minute, comes off like a drunken lark, a band reacting to its holier-than-thou reputation.
It’s the polar-opposite of album-closer “Tried to Quit Smoking,” an odd, nearly 10-minute slow-burner in which Stickles confesses: “It’s not that I wanted to hurt you/I just didn’t care if I did” — a sentiment that could stand as Titus Andronicus’ reason for being.
TITUS ANDRONICUS play Tuesday, Sept. 24 with Lost Boy at in the Revival Room of Newport's Southgate House Revival. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.