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Therapy? - Disquiet

Therapy? - DisquietTherapy? have been one of the UK's most consistently brilliant and inventive bands over the last couple of decades. Breaking big with Troublegum in 1994, they could easily have repeated the trick but chose to be true to themselves, releasing the dark, disturbing Infernal Love. Since then they have descended ever further down the rabbit hole, twisting and turning their own unique brand of alternative-metal-punk-pop inside and out. The band have never written a bad song, let alone recorded a bad album so a new release is always something to look forward to.

Disquiet is Therapy?'s fourteenth album and this far into their career they have nothing left to prove, except, maybe to themselves. Kicking off in fine style with Still Hurts, this is classic Therapy? A short, sharp shock to the system and more direct than the band have been for a while. Cruching riffs wrestle with the thunderous bassline and pounding drums as Andy Cairns spits out the lyrics... "Help me, I'm stuck, no room inside my skull" as the song races along like an elephant rollerskating down a hill. Still Hurts harks back to the style and feel of Troublegum, which is no bad thing.

Tides arrives on an off-kilter rhythm and a discordant squall of guitar. Less forceful than the opener but extremely catchy, Andy's rich vocals are full of despondency and hopelessness, as is his wont. Good News Is No News continues in the same vein with a sparse arrangement and another hugely catchy chorus. The song gathers pace, ending with a weird, repeated guitar noise. This song brings to mind the Wildhearts at their best, again, no bad thing.

As they have aged Therapy? have shifted from singing about the traumas of youth to the disappointment and depression of middle age. A mixture of anger and acceptance, Andy's lyrics are like the poetry of the damned and full of black humour as he sings about life's dark underbelly, the hopeless and the lost. After the claustrophobic Crooked Timber and bleak weirdness of A Brief Crack Of Light, the band have returned to more melodic climbs with Disquiet. However underneath the sheen is a boisterous, black punk soul and a metal heart still beats as the band hammer out the songs. Peel away the surface and there's a razor sharp rusty nail waiting to catch you unawares. There's an obvious touch of the autobiographical about Idiot Cousin... "Trust us to fuck it all up, fuck it all up when we get near the top" and "You don't look like a boy that sings, a boy that sings...". Here's a band who have been in the music business long enough to be chewed up, spat out and still come out fighting, unbowed and unbroken!

Songs like Helpless Still Lost and Insecurity are built around hooks so huge they would worry even jaws. Riffs twist and turn over the metronomic rhythm section and despite my use of the word 'melodic' there's a huge wall of sound going on here... all things are relative! Insecurity, with its frantic pace, is one best things the band have written in a long time, which is praise indeed given the high quality of the band's recent output. Vulgar Display Of Powder (brilliant title!) proves the band can still do heavy when they want to and harks back even further to the twisted genius of Nurse. It's as if the band have spent time distilling the thrilling freshness and excitement of their early years and injected it straight into their veins, mainlining on the inspiration it has given them.

Words Fail Me is pure punk, clattering along like the Ramones on speed and Torment Sorrow Misery Strife is a furious blast of noise riding on Michael McKeegan's pneumatic bass and driving the album towards its climax which arrives in the shape of Deathstimate, a slow, crawling song, channeling early Sabbath's sludge and full of atmosphere. The music, sparse underneath the drumbeats until the instruments kick back in for the chorus, this is Therapy? at their very best. Realising both their career and their lives are closer to the end than the start and coming to the conclusion they are "no closer to wisdom", the song and album ends with a wonderful instrumental section just about as heavy as anything they have recorded, before fading away to nothing.

Although Disquiet is more immediate than its predecessors that is not to say it is any less a work of twisted genius. Musically the band are far too experienced to fall into the trap of repeating themselves because they have no other option or nowhere else to go. There are, as mentioned, huge nods to the band's past but there's no parody or diminishing returns here. It's amazing how fresh this album sounds for a band so many years into their career... Therapy? still sound hungry and have the sense to capitalise on this. At just over 40 minutes this album is relatively short and like the SAS it gets in, kicks you in the knackers and gets out again before you've had a chance to realise what's happened. And it very much leaves you wanting more.

The production on Disquiet, undertaken jointly by Tom Dalgety and Therapy? themselves, is superb. Raw and sparse where it needs to be, elsewhere dense and solid but with a clarity that lets the quality of the songwriting and playing shine through. It's to Therapy?'s credit that they still have the drive and determination to keep writing and releasing albums of such high standards when it would be so easy to rest on their laurels, or indeed give up completely. Long may they continue as the world of music would be a far duller place without them.

Released: 23.03.15

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