Titus Andronicus – A Productive Cough
Almost every song on Titus Andronicus' new album overstays its welcome, leaving us longing for the 60s and 70s greats replicated here
Many people still love Titus Andronicus despite their peak, The Monitor, being eight years ago now, and have carried on through their various trials and tribulations since. Falling out with XL Recordings over the release of the middling-at-best Local Business, sitting through a 90-minute rock opera (The Most Lamentable Tragedy) that paled in comparison to their Canadian peers Fucked Up, etc etc. The impression that Patrick Stickles' detractors get, however, is that no one asked him 'not whether he could, just whether he should.'
Well, here we are in 2018, with the fifth Titus Andronicus record. A Productive Cough, which sees Stickles raid the 60s and 70s greats of the likes of Dylan and Springsteen and many others and... replicate them. The centrepiece of this album is a re-worked cover of one of the greatest songs ever written – Bob Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone – with the lyrics changed so that Stickles, ever the humble narcissist, can sing about himself rather than the female subject Dylan originally penned the song about. Defenders will argue that this is clever and post-modern; others will say it's massively self-indulgent, a trait Stickles has become ever-increasingly guilty of since The Monitor which pushed the boundaries of punk in a pleasingly exhilarating way.
Elsewhere, almost every song outstays its welcome, with only opener Number One (In New York) achieving anything even remotely approaching honesty. It's a shame because, a decade ago, over his first two records, Stickles was one of punk's great saviours. While it's absolutely fine that he's not interested in making punk music anymore (or at least for the time being), hearing him run through the blues and rock repertoire of the 60s and 70s offers absolutely nothing that can't be achieved by just going and listening to all those great, original, records.
Listen to: Number One (In New York), Above the Bodega (from Local Business), Like a Rolling Stone (the original)