Therapy? is back with a collection of crunchy post-punk songs. We take a look at how they fare on their fifteenth effort.
With almost thirty years of experience and fifteen albums under their belts, Ireland’s Therapy? does not seem to slow down one jot. Rising to prominence in the early nineties with their post-punk masterpiece Troublegum and successor Infernal Love, the band enjoyed massive success, playing just about any summer festival you could think of before they dropped back into relative obscurity again. Infernal Love’s monster hit single and Hüsker Dü cover Diane was a chart topper and the album itself did really well, so the band was understandably pushed to follow things up with an album in the same vein. Instead, Therapy? released Semi-Detached in 1998 and all but committed commercial suicide.
It’s par for the course for the sympathetic Irish noise rock trio. Cairns, McKeegan and Cooper do their own thing, follow their own path and release just about whatever the hell they like themselves. Their stint of big label fame was never going to last. Since then, Therapy? has released eight more albums, one better than the other and amongst which the
arguable mid-career highlight Crooked Timber, which is, sound-wise, darker than a black hole. 2015’s Disquiet, however, saw the band returning to a more accessible sound, reminding a little of the early days. Cleave is the continuation of Therapy? delving into their own past, even going so far as to team up with producer Chris Sheldon, who produced Troublegum and Semi-Detached back in the nineties.
Now, when I say the band is delving into their own past, this does not mean they have started sounding irrelevant, recording a carbon copy of their most successful work. There are definite hints to past glories, but Cleave might just be their most inspired work since Crooked Timber. Some of the songs on the album would not seem out of place on Troublegum or even Nurse, but Therapy? manages to sound wonderfully inspired here.
The first single, Callow, could have been a long lost song from 1995, so eerily akin is it to the bands early work. Crutch’s opening riff reminds of Troublegum’s Die Laughing for a moment, before becoming its own song. Wreck It Like Beckett has Andy Cairns shouting as angry and full of angst as ever, whilst Success? Success is Survival sports some wonderfully crunchy riffing. If you had given me this album and told me that it’s a 1993 album I’d somehow missed between Nurse and Troublegum, I’d believe you.
It’s unbelievable how fresh the band still sounds after thirty years, and it’s a testament to the inventiveness and timelessness of these three quirky Irishmen and they manage to do so on their fifteenth album, when most bands start complacently resting on their laurels. Cleave is a massive triumph, and could very well become one of the best albums in Therapy?’s long and illustrious career.
Label: Marshall Records, 2018
- Wreck It Like Beckett (3:19)
- Kakistocracy (2:58)
- Callow (3:03)
- Expelled (3:01)
- Success? Success Is Survival (3:53)
- Save Me from the Ordinary (2:57)
- Crutch (3:00)
- I Stand Alone (4:08)
- Dumbdown (3:01)
- No Sunshine (3:25)
- Andy Cairns – vocals, guitar
- Neil Cooper – drums
- Michael McKeegan – bass
Review by Ralph Plug