Tom Howard of NME praised the track, commenting "Yeah… so… um… wait a second go Everything Everything like the shy and polite young chaps they are. But then they break into a Dirty-Projectors-crossed with-Destiny’s-Child thing that makes you wish they'd go on a two-year hiatus and make comebacks all the bloody time. Suddenly they sound like saviours of music". "Cough Cough" was also met with positive reception from Doron Davidson-Vidavski of Londonist, who noted it as a "manic and wonderful track [which] highlights all that is unique about the quartet: choppy song structures, hectic vocals and hooksome melodies." The song reached #100 on Triple J Hottest 100 of 2012.
For the chart week dated 27 October 2012, "Cough Cough" debuted at number thirty-seven on the UK Singles Chart—marking the band's first top forty entry—beating previous highest charting single "My Kz, Ur Bf" (#121, 2010). The following week, "Cough Cough" fell twenty-two places to number fifty-nine; marking its second and final week within the top one hundred.