The last time Titus Andronicus released an album was in 2015 when the band introduced us to the sprawling, insanely ambitious The Most Lamentable Tragedy, a rock opera about manic depression. And because Titus is one of the best rock bands going right now, they pulled it off; it was one of our favorite albums of that year. So, it’s exciting news that they’re about to return with a new album, A Productive Cough. Billed as having a “subtler, more spacious approach,” the album finds Titus mastermind Patrick Stickles highlighting the more ballad-oriented side of his project, though with plenty of room for characteristically sprawling, ambitious rockers as well. And, yes, the album features a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone,” in case you doubted the “ambitious” part.
Along with the announcement, we get our first preview of A Productive Cough via its opening track, “Number One (In New York).” It’s a good glimpse at exactly what an album of Titus “ballads” could sound like — which is to say, though it may begin as a spare piano-based track, “Number One" gradually piles on the layers and instrumentation, alongside Stickles’ intensifying vocal, until it feels like it’s going to explode. It has a scope not dissimilar from the most expansive tracks on 2010’s The Monitor, building to a dramatic conclusion as evocative as the finest Titus tracks. It’s also accompanied by a video directed by Ray Concepcion.
Check it out below.