A Productive Cough (LP)

Titus Andronicus


Amoeba Review


The last time we heard from Patrick Stickles and his ongoing punk rock odyssey Titus Andronicus, it was on 2015’s The Most Lamentable Tragedy, a 5-part rock opera stretched over 3 albums and 90 minutes of music. Even for a band with the sheer ambition of TA (and they have truly few contemporaries in that regard in this day and age), their follow-up was bound to be a bit more paired back. However, that does little to prepare the casual observer for A Productive Cough, which is largely comprised of extended ballads draped in Americana and folky arrangements that strip away much of the “rock” from the equation. Hence a lead single such as “Number One (In New York),” whose endlessly repeating piano motif and seesawing gait resembles a sing-along drinking shanty, albeit one with lyrics that veer from the incendiary to the surreal. For over eight minutes it builds in intensity and excitement, yet refrains from exploding into the Springsteen-esque arena rock climax that the band has previously been so partial to. Instead, it drifts and drones off into the distance, more “Street Hassle” than the E Street Band. Other highlights include the unabashed Exile on Main St. glory of “Above the Bodega (Local Business),” or a lengthy, unorthodox reinterpretation of Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.” Titus Andronicus’s left turn into rootsy folk-styled songwriting and eschewing of noisy punk fury on A Productive Cough proves once again that they are one of the most original, if not unpredictable, bands in all of indiedom. Yet it’s also the level of quality that they maintain from release to release that makes them one of the best. A Productive Cough is no different.

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