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Album Review: Cleave by Therapy?

Northern Ireland’s Therapy? release their 15th album Cleave on 21st September via Marshall Records. Billed as “a scathing, incisive state-of-the-nation address, investigating the schisms in contemporary society and the motivations of those seeking to propagate disjuncture, it’s a powerful, challenging, uncompromising collection from a band never afraid to confront and dissect humanity’s darkest impulses.”

Before opening track ‘Wreck It Like Beckett’ finishes you get the feeling that this is going to be the archetypal Therapy? album – big riffs, immediate hooks and a critical look at society. For the most part they’ve shunned their more abrasive and experimental side and created an album in the vein of Troublegum, Semi Detached or Disquiet – rather than the more challenging Suicide Pact – You First or A Brief Crack of Light.

Cleave is an album that the band’s legions of fans will love. It couldn’t be anybody but Therapy? If you’ve previously failed to get into the band then this isn’t the album for you. It feels like frontman Andy Cairns is aware of this and the result being an album for the purists – “Therapy? have always been the kind of band that when people discover us, they immerse themselves deep and keep us close to their hearts. We’ve never been part of a trend, so we’ve never been cast aside when fashions changed. CLEAVE, to me, is Therapy? at our most focused. I love our more experimental side, but I also love that this record sounds like it was made by a band who’re all reading from the same script and moving forward with the same determination and hunger.”

Fifteen albums in and the same sound can become over familiar. Sure, this is a decent alt rock album, but it doesn’t do anything special, there are no standout tracks and it feels like you’ve heard it all before. ‘Expelled’ and ‘Save Me From The Ordinary’ are the best tracks but they could have been lifted from any other Therapy? album. ‘Crutch’ feels like the band have stuck Troublegum on repeat and tried to re-create all those ideas from 1994 and cram them into 3 minutes. In theory this should result in an excellent track, for many hardcore fans they’ll consider this one of the band’s best, for us it’s just too unoriginal. A bright point comes in the thunderous opening riff of ‘I Stand Alone’ and you can’t help but enjoy the track, likewise ‘No Sunshine’ sounds like the best parts of Semi-Detached and that’s a good thing in our book.

A decent album but a safe album. Unimaginative but unashamedly archetypal Therapy?

AD Rating 6/10


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