The lead single from Everything Everything’s second album, Arc (2013), ‘Cough Cough’ gave the band their first top 40 hit in the UK – given the frenetic, off-the-wall nature of their songwriting it’s hardly surprising that Everything Everything haven’t troubled the singles charts much, although their albums have received both critical acclaim and commercial success.
Opening with a quirky vocal and drum hook that builds over the course of 8 bars, every new section of ‘Cough Cough’ that unfolds has a distinctly different feel and a change of musical texture. The synth bass entry during the first verse brings a more sinister tone to proceedings; if you want to emulate the sound of the synth on a bass guitar then the simplest effects setup involves an octave pedal running into an overdrive/distortion/fuzz of some sort – this will give your bass the keyboard-like attack needed to approximate the part.
Having rested during the prechorus to make room for the busy, quasi-baroque arpeggiated keyboard line, the bass comes storming back in for the chorus with a prominent melodic line that alternates between longer notes connected with slides and clipped, semiquaver syncopations with each bar.
For the second half of the chorus, bassist Jeremy Pritchard increases the intensity, adding some rapid triplet and semiquaver scalar passages to connect the harmony. Given the tempo of 126bpm, a fair amount of coordination between both hands is required to execute these semiquaver runs cleanly – fortunately they fit ‘under the hand’ easily and don’t require any big position shifts to reach any of the notes.