I’m a little slow getting to this Ep release from Therapy?, but it’s been on my mind to cover it for a while now. History first… Formed in 1989, Therapy? are a 3-piece rock band originally from Larne, Northern Ireland. With no less than 14 studio albums under their belts along with a string of Ep’s, singles, video/dvds, box-sets, twenty something years of US/European tours. They are currently working with independent label Amazing Records.
Along with masses of other loyal fans and followers, I’ve been an avid Therapy? listener and record collector for about twenty years now (since my teens). For me and my school mates, we once held them up as the Irish Nirvana. They inspired me to pick up a guitar and write songs in the first place. I’ve seen them play three times in concert during the ‘Infernal Love’ (1995) through to ‘Suicide Pact: You First’ (1999) era, and left each show more impassioned that the last.
Enter the single from their recent Ep ‘Tides’ off the 2015 album ‘Disquiet’. Success is a bitch. It’s never easy to separate a band’s current work from their past glories. People will always compare. The medieval weigh-house is a scrutinizing devil that every artist will inevitably come across. So, how does ‘Tides’ weigh up alongside it’s line of musical ancestry?
Particularly in terms of production, ‘Disquiet’ is a re-visitation for Therapy? to their 90’s commercial peak and acclaim, as well as additional artwork by their long-time collaborator Nigel Rolfe. The lead single, ‘Tides’ is as dependable and flawless a tune as you’re likely to wrap your eardrums around in the pop-rock genre. It also stands firm in it’s acoustic form just as well as it’s arrangement with the full band.
One of my favourite elements of Therapy? has always been Michael McKeegan‘s bass playing. On record, he has been producing a sound since ‘Crooked Timber’ that for me is the essence of his instrument. I absolutely love that I can hear the texture of the bass strings, slightly metallic with warm high mids sitting beautifully in the mix. Tied in with Neil Cooper‘s steadfast, hard-hitting drums. His ‘Fyfe-ish’ snare hits are so jam-packed with personality that the rhythm section of Therapy? is a pendulum of melody and sheer drive.
Andy Cairns‘ is equally as versatile a guitarist, as he is as a songwriter and has lyrically been a massive influence over the years.’Tides’ is no exception. The metaphor, the angst, and attention to detail are all there and continue to conjure up his biggest influences in Joy Division, Husker Du, Captain Beefheart, The Stooges, Killing Joke while leaving enough room to explore his current situation.
Keeping true to form, Therapy? have also gone that bit further, as they always do with their releases, and given fans and audiophiles a chance to dig deeper into their world with additional b-sides ‘Smile or Die’, ‘Slippies’, and a remix of ‘Insecurity’. While for me these b-sides aren’t quite as good as say, ‘Opal Mantra’, ‘Totally Random Man’ and ‘Evil Elvis’ to name a few, I totally dig the sound they’ve gone for. Love the distorted mix, vocals over the heavy bass and drums. ‘Smile or Die’ reminds me alot of one of their earlier releases ‘Church of Noise’ from Semi-Detached. ‘Slippies’ for me has a hint of Husker Du‘s pivotal record, ‘Zen Arcade’. Also, given their history with David Holmes during ‘Infernal Love’ (1995) it’s not out of place to see the odd electro remix here on ‘Insecurity’.
While I’m not a massive fan of this last song, overall the ‘Tides’ Ep definitely seals Therapy? a place as one of my all time favourite bands. They continue to push the scope of their music on this Ep from early influences Beefheart and Husker Du, through to the bass of Charles Mingus, and the electronic/atmospheric work of David Holmes; refining and revisiting their work over the years, as well as expanding their musical influences with the hope of many more great releases to come in the future.
For more on Therapy? – http://www.therapyquestionmark.co.uk/