Therapy? is about to drop their fifteenth studio album, ‘Cleave’ on 21st September 2018, their first for Marshall records, and the follow-up to 2015’s critically acclaimed ‘Disquiet’. Meaning to prise apart, and also to bring together, ‘Cleave’ comprises ten intelligently composed tracks that take a vituperative look at the current state of our fractured society. Never ones to conform, the subject matter is addressed in typically abrasive fashion for the Northern Irish rockers, who have now been in the business for almost thirty years.
‘Wreck It Like Beckett’ kick starts the album with its almighty powerful, driving drum beat from Neil Cooper and chugging bass from Michael McKeegan combo that immediately grabs my attention and makes me want to bang my head. Andy Cairns’ addictive riffs and distorted vocal over some spoken words in places is really effective; “Everyone’s living all over each other, everyone living their life out loud, everyone’s fighting with one another…I feel hopeless, I feel cursed”. It’s certainly compelling. ‘Kakistocracy’, derived from a Greek word literally meaning a government run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens, speaks of feeling let down and of the rift in our society.
“Do you feel lost, because I feel lost. Do you feel let down, because I feel so let down. What about the helpless/homeless/desperate…”. Despite the hopeless sounding words, the rousing chorus, “It’s okay not to be okay, it’s okay not to be okay” with well placed drum fills and melodic riffs make this song feel altogether more positive.
Lead single ‘Callow’ was released in May, so will be familiar to some. It’s musically not as heavy as its predecessors, but lyrically emotive, “I don’t need your medicine, I don’t need anything from you. If you take my demons, you’ll take my angels too”. Like the accompanying music video, it refers to the growing rise in Xanax addiction. It has an insanely catchy hook and the riffs have been running through my brain, along with the chorus, all week. The groovy ‘Expelled’ is about the disparity between the wealthy and poor, “Some live their lives in concrete, some live their lives in comfort”. Cairns’ almost snarling vocals at the injustice and unfairness of society almost seem at odds with the slightly funky tones in the instrumentation and musically there is some discord, which fits perfectly with the theme of the song, it’s a real ear worm of a track.
‘Success? Success Is Survival’ is a real assault on the eardrums from the outset, Cooper’s intense drumming driving the song forward, adeptly accompanied by McKeegan’s booming bass. The funkier start to ‘Save Me From The Ordinary’ lulls me into a false sense of security, but then after the chorus comes a colossal metal edged sword that’s riff-driven into my face! From the opening bars of ‘Crutch’, it sounds familiar, like an old favourite. Cairns’ vocals, whilst not quite as menacing as on some tracks, sound fantastic, and I have to just mention the line, “You’re like a scab that I can’t stop picking”. Like so many songs on this album, this has also been stuck in my head for the past few days.
The incredible grungy riff at the beginning of ‘I Stand Alone’ that gives way to softer vocals that I’m not expecting make for a tantalising and unusual combination. The thwacking drums and crunchy wall of guitars are electrifying and Cairns’ vocals in the softer parts are so heartfelt. ‘Dumbdown’ also has insanely catchy riffs and that Cooper/McKeegan rhythm section power combo that doesn’t let up for a second. “Some people like you, hate people like me, I don’t belong here, I’m not pure”. It continues with the album theme and Cairns’ vocals are almost growled in places. Album closer ‘No Sunshine’ is about depression and though the lyrics are obviously about depression robbing you of friends and self-belief, the melodic tone lifts it, making it feel more positive.
Although there is absolutely no discounting the seriousness of the lyrical themes running through the songs that make up this album, at the same time each one is an absolute belter that is an infectiously catchy, balls to the wall rock anthem that hits you like an adrenaline shot to the heart. After listening to this a few times I pre-ordered ‘Cleave’ (and a t-shirt!) via PledgeMusic and bought tickets to see the band live on tour, I can’t wait!
‘Cleave’ track listing:-
Wreck It Like Beckett
Success? Success Is Survival
Save Me From The Ordinary
I Stand Alone
Andy Cairns - vocals/guitar
Michael McKeegan - bass
Neil Cooper - drums
Therapy? ‘Going Somewhere’ tour dates:-
8 Nov 18 - Cardiff, Globe
9 Nov 18 - Southampton, Engine Rooms
10 Nov 18 - Norwich, Waterfront
11 Nov 18 - Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
12 Nov 18 - Glasgow, The Garage
13 Nov 18 - Sheffield, O2 Academy 2
15 Nov 18 - Stoke, Sugarmill
16 Nov 18 - Manchester, Gorilla
17 Nov 18 - Leeds, Brudenell
19 Nov 18 - Brighton, Concorde 2
20 Nov 18 - Bristol, SWX
21 Nov 18 - Exeter, Phoenix
22 Nov 18 - London, Islington O2 Academy
23 Nov 18 - Birmingham Asylum
Find out more about Therapy? here:-
Pre-order ‘Cleave’ (and more!) here:-