The Monitor

  • Record Label: XL
  • Release Date: Mar 9, 2010

Universal acclaim - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 32
  2. Negative: 0 out of 32
  1. While it's impressive that the band fills such big shoes, the biggest achievement of The Monitor is that it feels so significant in its own right.
  2. Neither a home run, then, nor the dreaded sophomore slump, The Monitor is, it is probably more fair to say, the album that finds the band maturing beyond the precocious triumph of their debut by first having to pass through their awkward, gangly adolescent phase.
  3. Catharsis is Stickles' fuel, and The Monitor is a 65-minute endorsement of angst and opposition as the best way to present that combustible sorrow.
  4. Uncut
    Scattershot, but so frighteningly intense and packed with ideas that you can't help but be impressed. [Apr 2010, p.100]
  5. Mojo
    Encyclopedic US indie rock--American Civil War, Walt Whitman, Hold Steady, Shakespeare all included.
  6. Lyrically, history and modern anxiety morph into freedom songs for an age where, then as now, "the enemy is everywhere," and neither whiskey nor "a pretty good GPA" will save you. But an album this excellent just might.
  7. There's a bloodymindedness on The Monitor that is equally infuriating and invigorating.
  8. The execution here might have seemed a bit more authentic had they been going for a pure concept album with a Civil War theme; unfortunately, hearing Stickles locked in bloodied-but-unbowed mode throughout the record doesn't add any greater emotional depth to the intertwining themes.
  9. The Monitor, then, is a boisterous, eloquent argument that rock music need not be dumb in order to be enjoyable, moreover, that we should be questioning and analysing our heritage rather than precariously stumbling onwards. But mostly, it's just a stupendous collection of songs; one that demands to be listened to as loudly as you can possibly get away with.
  10. The occasional overlong segment of a song (The Battle Of Hampton Roads) and self-pitying tone and vocal that skate a little close to "emo" (No Future Part Three...) are really the only complaints that can be levelled. This very American, sometimes Irish-American sounding album, funny, occasionally scabrous, occasionally angry but most often simply passionate, is one of the smartest and most intelligent punk releases in a while, and one of the most enjoyable too.
  11. this passionate record sounds more true to the E Street Band's spirit than do the absurdly literal Bossisms of the Gaslight Anthem. The Monitor is maybe 20 minutes too long, and by the end you'll be as exhausted as exhilarated, but there's the promise of a rare and vivid talent here.
  12. Clocking in at just over an hour, The Monitor is a self-indulgent statement, to be sure--but some of the best ambitious works are often the most personal.
  13. 80
    With five songs clocking in at more than seven minutes, often thanks to detours down E Street, it's a big-idea album that feels small and personable, even as it's kicking you in the shin.
  14. Alternative Press
    Stand too clsose to the bagpipes, harmonica, scream-along choruses and a constant artillery of thundering drums, and your ears are gonna get powder burns. [Apr 2010, p.130]
  15. NOW Magazine
    Even naysayers can't overlook their second album's intelligence, uniqueness and ambition.
  16. "The enemy is everywhere" is The Monitor's twice-invoked refrain, the central thesis of an album that's both uncompromisingly bleak and impossible to ignore.
  17. The Monitor more than cements Titus Andronicus's place in the indie rock arena. At its best moments, it reminds you of just how durable--and dangerous--a beast like rock 'n' roll can still be.
  18. The Monitor is an album about perpetual rebellion, and whether that strikes you as exciting or wearying will have a great bearing on how much you get out of it.
  19. The fundamental difference between The Monitor and the group's debut, The Airing of Grievances, and the reason why the former shines less bright than the latter, is in the attitude.
  20. Titus Andronicus have created an album that will grip the listener, carry them along on a tide of spit and blood and youthful aggression, and leave them dazed and exhausted at the end, with no other option but to start the record all over again.
  21. The band have taken Bruce Springsteen's influence, twisted and distorted it and made a quite remarkable album that lives up both to its rebellious, riotous ambition and its rich musical heritage.
  22. Filter
    The Monitor finds the New Jersey band swimming ina similar cesspool of whiskey and shit, with nothing but a proud hangover--and one hell of a record--to show for it. [Winter 2010, p.98]
  23. The Monitor is ridiculously strident and frequently overblown, but somehow never slips into self-parody, which may only be true because it's obvious these guys are having a total blast indulging this hard. It's easily the most enjoyable rock record I've heard so far this year.
  24. The Monitor is a near perfect union of cacophony and immature angst.
  25. Some of the riffs are quite incredible ('A More Perfect Union'), and the general effect of the whole album is that the listener will want to weep and dance simultaneously. Simply brilliant.
  26. There isn't anything remotely 'neat' about The Monitor. Instead, it's a rocking, joyful, epic beast of an album that rattles with energy and pulses with the heart of a raging bull.
  27. That means you get Stickles roaring about being told he'll always be a loser over full-throttle indie-Springsteen arrangements replete with bleating Clarence Clemons saxophone lines, pavement-pounding marching-band drums, and loads of drunk-dude Dropkick Murphys gang-vocal chants.
  28. The Monitor probably could've borrowed more firepower from the ironclad battleship for which it's named, but the album nevertheless meshes old-fashioned themes with a modern twist.
  29. Typically the band can be found tiptoeing the edge of shameless, binge-drinking punk rock ("Titus Andronicus Forever"). It's better when they're loud, I think, because it makes Stickles' doubt seem more immediate, like there's a time limit to his sanity.
  30. At times the running-on-fumes punk benefits The Monitor's overall sound. But the problem is that the songs that surround the defined centerpieces sound undeveloped or just plain fall flat, particularly early on when we hear about a supposed hero covered in excrement and piss as a dramatic plot-point.
  31. It lasts about two days, though, and even though the likes of 'Four Score And Seven' and 'To Old Friends And New' hum with energy and shoutalong choruses a little restraint would've worked wonders. An above-average Titus record is worth a dozen imitators, though.
  32. It's more like sloshing or spewing, as intermittent love lookbacks evoke a social despair also contextualized by fabulous spoken epigraphs from Walt Whitman, Jefferson Davis, William Lloyd Garrison, and Young Abe Lincoln.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 102 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 16
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 16
  3. Negative: 0 out of 16
  1. Rob
    Apr 1, 2010
    Messy, confused, angry, brilliant.
  2. Oct 21, 2010
    The clear-cut pick for album of the year; this manages to outdo its absolutely stellar debut album in every way, and kicks your face in for aThe clear-cut pick for album of the year; this manages to outdo its absolutely stellar debut album in every way, and kicks your face in for a solid 65 minutes. Patrick Stickles is a songwriter and lyricist on par with the best of them, and there is not a weak track on here. Pure Brilliance. Full Review »
  3. Aug 19, 2015
    I can't believe this has the lowest user rating of their 4 albums when it is clearly the best one. This album is phenomenal from start toI can't believe this has the lowest user rating of their 4 albums when it is clearly the best one. This album is phenomenal from start to finish. The occasional violin and vocals from Amy are fantastic and exactly what the newer albums are missing. Don't get me wrong, TAOG was a great debut, but they really came into their own on the Monitor. Local Business was incredible and TMLT is beyond impressive, but neither of those albums surpassed the Monitor in my opinion. +@ Forever!!! Full Review »