There are times when you need to change, start from scratch. For the indie rock band Titus Andronicus this moment coincided with the writing and publication of their fifth studio album, A Productive Cough. Started as an irriverent, raw and genuine punk rock formation, the creative vein of the leader Patrick Stickles has brought the band to explore many different areas of the indie world arriving, with a sharp fracture, to the point where we find them today: in their last LP the band plays nowadays a sort of folk-rock with an almost-totally-acoustic instrumentation (“barroom rock” as said by someone), and you can visually imagine this quartet of musicians unleashing their passion for music through old and new rock motifs. Just to give you a better idea, in the middle of the album there is a very nice re-interpretation of Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone, which in the end is perfectly mixed with all the other tracks on the album.
A Productive Cough reminds us how beautiful are folk acoustic ballads, and how exciting may be, sometimes, to listen to pure and simple rock music without too many embellishments or refinements made in the recording studio. Two guitars, one bass, drums, simple and cantabile melodies, engaging choruses inspired by popular and street music. In other words: music stripped down of all that is superfluous, brought back to its primordial stage, an element of communion and sharing of emotions. And to make everything believable and self-consistent, the abum never exceeds in any direction: seven songs – one of which is the already mentioned cover of Bob Dylan – for a little more than 45 minutes of total duration. Fast, simple, essential to the bone, and extremely enjoyable to hear in many different occasions.
On the other hand it is clear that an album like A Productive Cough can not leave everyone equally convinced and enthusiast, especially those who were particulary attracted by the complexity and, in some senses, the depth of the previous works from the band. Although guided by a clear punk vein, Titus Andronicus have always concealed a second level of interpretation beneath the rebellious surface of their music. Today, with their new album, they have taken a beneficial break, leaving free the desire to play music and give emotions in the most direct way possible, like a rolling stone.