Titus Andronicus: A Productive Cough (Merge) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019  

Titus Andronicus

A Productive Cough

Merge

Feb 26, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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Now that they've got a concept album about the Civil War and a rock opera about depression under their belts, New Jersey punk heroes Titus Andronicus are back with...a single-disc, seven-track album of straight rock 'n' roll. A Productive Cough sees Patrick Stickles giving in to his ever-present classic rock soul. Sounding like a cross between The Rolling Stones and early Springsteen, Titus once again knock it out of the park with a rousing, passionate collection of rock anthems.

"Number One (In New York)," the first anthem, is a slow build of the Bowie "Five Years" variety, with instruments piling on and the volume increasing over eight minutes. Stickles is beaten down: "Choking from smoking these Marlboro hundreds/Dysfunctional, fuck up in front of the public," he snarls, spilling out a confessional of defeat before taking his stand: "I tell it to the microphone!" Most of the songs here are similarly bitter; he's feeling the weight of the times and the hurt of the people. "Real Talk" is the new pessimists' thesis: "If the future's as bleak as I hear on the streets, we're looking at a real long haul/The people I speak to take drugs when they need to stop thinking about it all." There's an extended cover of Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" that is so fervent it could be performed at church. And "Above the Bodega (Local Business)" is the best song here, a callback to the band's 2012 album Local Business, filled to the brim with brass, vocal harmonies and "shoo-la-las."

You can never accuse Titus Andronicus of being without conviction, and A Productive Cough might be their strongest case yet. It's refreshingly concise, yet fiery and lyrically on point. We could use a new Titus Andronicus album every year. (www.titusandronicus.net)

Author rating: 8/10

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