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Therapy? - 'Cleave' Album Review


1. Wreck It Like Beckett

2. Kakistocracy

3. Callow

4. Expelled

5. Success? Success Is Survival

6. Save Me From The Ordinary

7. Crutch

8. I Stand Alone

9. Dumbdown

10. No Sunshine

This is a terrible admission to make, but I’ll make it anyway; I didn’t realise that Therapy? were still around. Well not only are they still around they are ready to release their fifteenth studio album ‘Cleave’ later this month on Marshall Records (yes it is a label which is part of the company that produces those famous amplifiers). This collection was recorded at Blast Studios in Newcastle and was produced by Chris Sheldon. The Foo Fighters, Biffy Clyro, Feeder and the Pixies are just some of the bands that have previously benefited from Sheldon’s talents. Formed in Northern Ireland back in 1989 Therapy? released their first album ‘Babyteeth’ in 1991. The band now consists of Andy Cairns on vocal, guitar and song writing duties, he is the only remaining founder member. However bassist Michael McKeegan joined very early on. The drummer is Englishman Neil Cooper who joined the band sixteen years ago.

Therapy? have always been hard and heavy and this new album showcases that rather well. Lead single “Callow” was unleashed in May this year, it is a massive riff driven powerhouse of a song and Cairns singing is first class. The video that accompanied the song is both scary and stunning. The song and the video are both well thought views on mental illness and the numbness provided by most associated medication. The most powerful line in the song for me is “If you take my demons, you'll take my angels too”. This album channels Cairns anger once again, but in a great way. “Save Me From The Ordinary” and “Wreck It Like Beckett” power up the amps to 11 and kick arse in a way that makes me think of what Therapy? might be like if they were just Andy Cairns backed by Iggy’s Stooges at their peak.

“Kakistocracy” seems to be pointing a finger at how society in general deals with mental health issues; those issues are often ignored or swept under the carpet. Rather than the common platitude of “pull yourself together” from many people the catch line in this song is “it’s okay to be not okay”. I must confess that I resorted to the dictionary to learn what kakistocracy actually meant. Apparently it is “government by the worst persons; a form of government in which the worst persons are in power”. How appropriate is that given the state of the world?

This album is high on passion, high on anger, high on caring and at times might leave you feeling a little uncomfortable. If you do feel that way then I reckon the message of ‘Cleave’ has worked.

Review - Bill Adamson

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