Pretty much the world's most preposterous band 'A Productive Cough' could well be seen as the album Titus Andronicus went too far. These haughty singalongs sound something like the Pogues channeled through Bruce Springsteen but even more rambunctious than that sounds. Features an extremely pointless cover of Bob Dylan's 'Like a Rolling Stone' which was the moment we (finally) switched off.
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The band formerly known as Titus Andronicus and now known syllabically as +@ have done it! They’ve reached music’s gutter! Coming off the best record in their catalogue they deliver the worst, a collection of hyper-disposable anthems in which Patrick Stickles kicks over the trash can outside his house and then decides to wear it as a helmet. Rousing, euphoric and terrible, it’s ‘A Productive Cough’! There’s a Bob Dylan cover.
The levels to which Stickles is literary are contained within that cover: he transposes the song for the first person, changing every “you” to “I” and internalising Dylan’s well-worn standard. An innovative twist, I think we can all agree. “Number One (In New York)" is football stadium yelling channelled through a Pogues’ drinking session (no qualitative judgments here, but boy is that key change a reach). “Real Talk” sees Stickles give into the super repetitive, musically stilted avenues he explored on the Residents-y ‘Local Business’. The whole thing sounds like a joke, which of course it is, because it’s Patrick bloody Stickles, but it turns out I wouldn’t go to a Titus Andronicus stand-up show.
I’m pretty sure Patrick Stickles actually has a Crass tattoo but you wouldn’t know it listening to “Crass Tattoo”, a quiet, downbeat tune in which we finally get to hear someone other than him try and sing (they do it well). The arrangements sound like they were motivated by chaos, the shambolic strums and muddled instrumentation taking any sense of ballad and converting it to stupor. Stickles said he wanted to make ballads the centrepiece of this record. Weird. Because… he can’t write them.
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- A Productive Cough by Titus Andronicus
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