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Therapy?: Cleave

Alongside Earth Vs The Wildhearts, Therpay?’s Troublegum album was a huge part of my 90s soundtrack. Angry, dissatisfied and yet sharply incisive, both albums shook the earth with gargantuan guitar chaos and melodic hearts. And yet they also had the know how to do all of that with choruses that made even the deeply disinterested nod along and inadvertently mouth the socially aware words. While my affair with the wild ones has continued on to this day, I somehow drifted away from Therapy?, the band’s Troublegum follow-up, Infernal Love, changing tone and mood - and being overshadowed by its cover version of Husker Du’s “Diane” - before Semi-Detached lived up to its name, causing my attentions to wander.

What made me curious enough to peer into the world of the band’s thirteenth album, Cleave, I’m not sure. Possibly it was the sudden realisation that Therapy? were still around - a mate suggesting they must have reformed, when in fact they’d never broken up in the first place. Hence I wasn’t initially sure what my reaction should have been when the razor sharp snare pop of “Wreck It Like Beckett” decided to dance all over my face as though I’d never left the spiky Troublegum party. The world is, of course, a completely different place now and yet, just as Therpay? were able to tap into the disaffection many had towards everyday 90s life, so the anger at the inequalities of 2018 become apparent as this album’s picture takes shape. In fact you can positively taste the fury in singer Andy Cairns’ spittle as he barks and snarls this tale of everyday anguish.

‘It’s okay not to be okay’ howls “Kakistocracy”, mental health, loneliness and isolation (a word I remember screaming along to a Troublegum highlight all those years ago) tackled head on. It’s society’s cause, it’s society’s problem, so why does society not fucking well care?? “Callow” is the single, and it takes its foot off the gas ever so slightly, Michael McKeegan’s bass allowed to roam viciously as Cairns slides out a deceptively grating burst from his guitar.

At just over half an hour, there’s not a second wasted, “Save Me From The Ordinary” a sub-three minute workout that’s part pop, part rock, part punk and yet never loses its biting edge. While “Crutch” hints back to earlier days, with an indie-punk fist of controlled fury that’s filled with tension and release. “No Sunshine”, through its very name, sums up the sentiment of this record, no false promises being made, no easy solutions trotted out and no suggestion that Therapy? have the cure. However, they do undoubtedly understand what the goal is here, after all who else would call a song “Success? Success Is Survival” and sound like they damn well lived it?

Troublegum was an album of its age and yet it remains as relevant today as it did when it first bit off the head of every day expectations. As we have all, Therapy? have grown up and left adolescence behind. That they remain tapped into the torpor that the world around them continues to evoke says a lot about them, but it undoubtedly says even more about the society that brought them to these conclusions. Cleave might not have the answers but it sure as hell understands what the issues are in a way that those who claim they can fix them never will. It’s also one of the best albums I’ve heard in quite some time.


Track Listing
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

Added: September 13th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Therapy? online
Hits: 478
Language: english

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