After a 3 year break, re-grouping, re-focusing and re-energising as they put it, Therapy? are back, and dare I say it, better than ever, with "Crooked Timber" - a follow up from 2006's "One Cure Fits All". An album they themselves describe as focusing more on rhythm than melody, it is certainly a step away from their previous rough and raw releases of "Suicide Pact - You First" and more recently "Never Apologise Never Explain" from 2004. This album seems much more suited to the mainstream, much like their previous effort.
Here's my run-down of the tracks as they play on the album.
The Head That Tried To Strangle Itself (3:25)
If you've got a sub woofer, turn it up. Beginning with a heavy mix of guitar and drums, this is an good opener and sets out the focus of the album from the start.. Instructed to sing like he speaks for this album, front man Andy Cairns' voice is prominent not just throughout this song but the whole album. Nice breakdown at 1:39 before kicking back into things again. 7/10
Enjoy The Struggle(4:10)
Opens up with a bit of snare work from drummer Neil Cooper and this is one of the stand-out tracks for the drums for me as they work perfectly within the song. The bass is also heavily mixed into this song and this certainly fits in with the rhythm rather than melody theme. Very classic Therapy?, simple guitar solo beginning at 3:09 which I like and remind me of another song of theirs, "Joey" from years gone by. 8/10
Clowns Galore (3:43)
This is another song which features a heavy mix of drums and the bass of Michael McKeegan. Cooper's snare work is also prominent in this song and becomes a recurring action throughout the album. The vocals also feature Cairns' Northern Irish twang when he sings, "But what do we dooo" during the chorus, which I find myself singing along to. This song wouldn't be out of place on their poppier album "High Anxiety" from 2003. 7/10
This song opens with some weird guitar effect that I really can't describe as I don't play it myself! I'm not actually a fan of it and it put me off the song on the first listen. However, once past those 10 seconds or so, there is a lovely bassline which stands out on it's own against both the drums and guitar. The chorus is another one which you could easily find yourself singing along to in your house, with a lot of "Wooooaaaaaaaaah" involved. Easily one of the best songs on the album. 8.5/10
Crooked Timber (5:52)
The title track and first single from the album due out on 18/5/09. Nice use of hi-hats and guitar in the intro before launching into the main song. This song has four main points which stand out for me. Hi-hats, snare, bass and the vocals. The drums and bass have a perfect rhythm and the vocals are a eerie but almost calming echoey effect. The choruses are short but sweet and the breakdowns are well structured. Andy Cairns' solo vocals at 2:49 until 3:03 provides a suspense that leaves you hoping for more, and they truly deliver. 3:50 sees the repeat 'til end of the line "My shade will comfort you" over the top of a thrilling myriad of guitar, bass and drums. A drummer myself, it's a section of song that I find really enjoyable to listen to as well as play. 10/10
I Told You I Was Ill (3:51)
One of the weaker tracks in my opinion, but it may be something to do with the fact that it follows directly after one of my favourites. There's just something about it that doesn't work for me. Individually, the guitar, bass and drums are good, they just don't seem to link very well for me. The chorus chugs along and doesn't have that rhythm as promised. Filler track. 5/10
Another thumping, bassy intro, so the next intro you might need to read up on will be on sub woofers! These guys will either break your old one or you'll need one just to experience the full quality of the album. This isn't my favourite track either, although I am a fan of the bassline during the verses and there's a nifty breakdown at 2:49, but apart from that, nothing special. 6/10
Blacken The Page (2:48)
Back on track again with this..well...track. Catchy choruses, catchy riffs, catchy drums. Nice little breakdown at 1:25. Just a pity it's too short! 7.5/10 (Would have been 8.5 if it was longer...)
Magic Mountain (10:05)
For those of you who hate instrumentals, look away now. For those of you who think mehhh then prepare to like this. Starts off very solemn and grungey before something mysterious happens at 0:59 and it goes all "build-up to something" stylee. This track is focused a lot on the drums and guitar and I think it's a pretty cool chill out track, as it never really does build up to anything. Saying that though, it's definitely not a bad track, why does it have to build up to something? It's quirky and it's catchy. I've hummed and whistled it many a time since listening to it. 9/10
Bad Excuse For Daylight (5:50)
This is track which goes back to early Therapy?. It's rough, it's raw and just a little bit weird. Maybe weird isn't the word to describe it, but the vocals have a delay effect on them, making the song sound slightly sinister, and the guitar doesn't extinguish this, in fact it only emphasises it. The instrumental breakdown at 3:58 until 4:29 just makes me think of one of those old horror movies with the chilling music as if someone is lurking, waiting to pounce. Certainly one of the heavier tracks on the album. 7/10
And that's your lot!
Certainly not without it's flaws or iffy tracks, but overall I feel this album could possibly be the catalyst which introduces Therapy? back into the limelight a little more and it has that alternative radio feel to it. And with new record label, Demolition, releasing this album in the US, well who knows what is in store for these guys.
Overall rating 8/10.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Head That Tried To Strangle Itself, The
2 Enjoy The Struggle
3 Clowns Galore
5 Crooked Timber
6 I Told You I Was Ill
8 Blacken The Page
9 Magic Mountain
10 Bad Excuse For Daylight