Above you’ll find a brand new Titus Andronicus song dubbed “Fatal Flaw.” According to main man Patrick Stickles, it’s the opening salvo of a 30-odd-song rock opera about manic depression that will serve as the New Jersey band’s fourth album. The ambitious new project should contrast markedly with the group’s last offering, 2012’s tight 10-song album Local Business, but we already knew Stickles has been interested in long-form works of late. To wit, read his masterful novella-length review of the Replacements’ first show in 22 years.
The Titus songwriter unveiled his plans in a talk with the Missoulian, explaining that the plot will be fictional, though inspired by his own struggles with the afroementioned condition, and also by Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy From the Spirit of Music, plus other literary works involving philosophy and psychology. Stickles also confirmed that there will be an accompanying film of sorts, though it’s unclear how story driven the visual will be. He described “33 music videos for 33 songs” and mentioned Puff Daddy as a reference point.
He added that the music will be faster and feature more heavily distorted guitar, and delivered an in-depth synopsis of the theme, which the Missoulian has helped to flesh out:
“Basically we meet a guy, a fella, and he’s a very depressed, sad guy, and he doesn’t have much hope about life,” Stickles said.
The character went through some sort of trauma he doesn’t fully understand that left him less outgoing, less ambitious than he once was.
A “mysterious, shadowy” figure appears, a “doppelgänger of our hero,” who reveals that the main character used to be part of an ancient race of humans.
“This superhuman race has this curse upon it, and the reason that they’re able to do all these great things is the same reason that they ultimately are doomed to destroy themselves. They’re a self-destructive race that’s dispersed amongst the regular population,” he said.
And so the source of all his power is the same thing that put him in the “bad state” at the beginning of the story.
After a love interest enters his life, the hero has to decide whether to reveal his true nature, and whether he wants to live like a regular person.
“So that’s the question, what’s he going to do? Is he going to become a human, or live out his true destiny? The true destiny is more painful, you understand? But it’s got bigger rewards but there are consequences,” Stickles said.
“It’s all a way of questioning, would you want to live your life in the middle … or would you accept the lows because they’re the price of the highs? Mostly it’s a metaphor for manic depression, is the thing,” he said.