Album: An Obelisk
. . .
Titus Andronicus followed up The Most Lamentable Tragedy with 2016’s quieter A Productive Cough, which featured longer, looser songs, not to mention the temerity to record and release a relatively faithful cover of “Like a Rolling Stone,” featuring a 2018 approximation of Dylan’s Thin Wild Mercury sound, which could have been a breaking point, but I actually quite liked, and found as funny as mastermind Patrick Stickles probably did..
They almost immediately followed that up with 2019’s An Obelisk, which was produced by Bob Mould and recorded at Steve Albini’s studio. So, you know, melodic punk rock, guided by the all-time master of such a thing. So while it might or might not have been Mould who suggested to start “(I Blame) Society” with its chorus, he most certainly didn’t object.
I blame society
Society’s to blame
I claim society
Is playing a hostile game
Inside my diary
I hide my private shame
And I blame society, society
Society’s to blame
I could be fanboying here, but I’m pretty sure I hear Mould singing harmonies here, even if the full band vocally shows up on the bridge where everybody is protesting too much about society being to blame. What I like about “I Blame Society” is that while it’s got classic punk lyrics like “I’m not sick, the system is / Despicable and twisted” I can also hear the Monty Python Dead Bishop on the Landing skit.
You know, the one in Hollywood Bowl where Eric Idle, when literally fingered by God for the murder of a bishop says, “it’s a fair cop, but society’s to blame” and John Cleese’s church policeman responds “Right. We’ll arrest them instead.”
And while I might be projecting, it does seem like there is an undertone of irony in this song, even if every single word is true, though the last couple of the second verse is totally and scarily prescient:
They provide a dried out dream
Lying through their teeth
I find the one thousandth of one percent
Are thriving by deceit, oh Jesus
They supply us meager feedings
While they feast in greed, oh Christ
They prescribe a violent beating
Ninety times a week, at least
They line us up in binaries for psychiatry retreats
Until they finally refine the virus that makes us obsolete
Cazart! Obviously, Patrick Stickles had no idea how true that was going to be when he wrote it. Or did he?
“(I Blame) Society” Official Lyric Video
“(I Blame) Society” Live on KEXP, 2019
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