There are a few bands out there where I’ve got one of their albums, but refuse to get any others because the one that I’ve got is just so good that I’m too scared of being disappointed by the rest of their arsenal. Protest The Hero, Vampire Weekend, The Raconteurs and Corrosion Of Conformity all fall into this category and, to a lesser extent, so do Therapy?.
I remember being at college when I first heard “Troublegum” and that opening first pre-chorus of “I’m gonna get drunk come round and fuck you up!”, which instantly had me hooked on what was a top rock album in the days when Grunge still ruled the roost and Nu-Metal was still learning how to rap. Years later I would find myself in a covers band that included both ‘Nowhere’ and ‘Screamager’ in the setlist, but other than that I’d never heard a lot of Therapy? on the radio or TV until they released ‘Church of Noise’ from the album “Semi-Detached” and after my initial excitement as the track began, I found myself fairly disappointed.
Therapy?‘s new album, “A Brief Crack Of Light” had a very similar effect on me.
Andy Cairns (guitar/vocals) says this album is about “the absurdity of human life” and so it’s entirely probable that the band have written an album that simply soars over my head, which is a shame as I was so desperate to like it. Opener ‘Living in the Shadow of the Terrible Thing’ starts proceedings well enough, it’s bass heavy sound still identifiable as Therapy? from the get go, but it’s after this that things start to go a little downhill.
Whilst I found my head nodding to the heaviness of ‘Plague Bell’ I couldn’t help but feel it sounded like a band just starting out rather than one that had enjoyed the 23 year career Therapy? have. Instrumental ‘Marlow’ sounds like a Modest Mouse track and although ‘Get Your Dead Hand Off My Shoulder’ has a catchy enough hook you can’t help but ask if Lou Reed had a hand in writing some of these tracks.
By the time the erratic ‘Stark Raving Sane’ has led you into the very Brand New-esque album closer ‘Ecclesiates,’ the feeling of nostalgia over listening to the Northern Irish rockers has dissipated and all that is left is the thought, “Where did I put Troublegum?”
At this point, I really feel that I must point out that Therapy? are a band who have always made albums they want to make and “A Brief Crack Of Light” is certainly no different. Despite my comparisons to other artists, at the end of the day this still manages to sound like a Therapy? record and I’m sure there is an army of fans who would simply look me in the eye and say “you just didn’t get it” and to those I say – “Fair enough. Now I’m gonna get drunk. Come round. And fuck you up.”