Evil Dr. Smith : Who would have thought that? The transverse dissonants and angular hooks of recent years have been replaced by addictive catchy sing-a-long melodies and vicious gruff riffs that make you want to teethgrind for the first albums of the best rocking trio of the Irish island. Therapy? has recruited the producer of 'Troublegum' (Chris Sheldon) and comes with an album that is a lot less inaccessible and noiserock-ish than the previous albums. Most people know the band of course from their success period from the first half of the 90s, and this album sounds like it should have been released in 1993.
The ten songs lay in terms of sound and style between the poisonous riffs of 'Nurse' (1992) and the commercial sounding, but oh so deliciously catchy 'Troublegum' (1994). Vinegar-pissing critics will probably find it dubious that the band flirts with this 'return to form' and modern 21ste century digital boys get a heart attack of the "vintage 90's" sound of the album ("Help, this album sounds so natural, so organic! Where are all the closely-triggered, rigidified loudness war techniques?"). I find it a refreshing surprise that the band dares to let go of their Unsane / Helmet / Big Black-like rawness on this 13th album (fifteen if you count the first two EPs from the early 90s), and returns to their old sound, which they do very convincingly. Normally you do not have to come to me so quickly with a look back. Therapy? does it anyway, and with verve.
The melodies earwig in your ear cups and you can’t get rid of them with a cotton swab: they stuck. Humming along is inescapable, and in the worst case you’re going to sing-a-long loudly. While you may be barely aware that it might be textually the darkest album ever from the sympathetic Northern Irish.
♫ I do not need your medicine
I do not need anything from you
If you take my demons
You'll take my angels too ♪
Your environment will not have to listen to your sing-a-longs with undivided pleasure. Two songs ('Callow' and 'Crutch') fit seamlessly between the melodic hits of 'Troublegum'. The other songs are a bit grimmer and heavier and would not be out of place on 'Nurse'. So let me prefer 'Nurse' to 'Troublegum' in the first place. It is only regrettable that after ten songs and 32 minutes it is already over. Oh well, better short but powerful, than long and long-winded. They are back in the Netherlands in mid-October. Check the agenda, because the band is one of the best live rock-acts. Hopefully they will play 'Wreck It Like Beckett' and 'No Sunshine': opener, closing and highlights of the album.