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This quietly devastating critique, delivered to Therapy? frontman Andy Cairns by a workmate at a Michelin tyre factory in
the late 80s, neatly encapsulates the sense of suspicion and confusion which enveloped the Northern Irish band at the
outset of their career. Outsiders from day one, Therapy? have drawn upon the attendant feelings of alienation, frustration
and dislocation for strength and inspiration across their remarkable 26 year career, crafting a dark, idiosyncratic worldview
which has garnered the group a reputation as one of the most uncompromising, creative and individualistic bands of their generation.
Disquiet, the bands fourteenth studio album, extends this proud legacy, and finds the trio of Cairns, bassist Michael
McKeegan and drummer Neil Cooper in incendiary form.
Therapy?s first recording for new label Amazing Record Co., Disquiet is 11 tracks of charged, in-your-face, bruisingly
melodic punk/metal. A sequel of sorts to the bands million-selling 1994 album Troublegum, its by turns
confrontational, challenging, vengeful and venomous, a visceral and utterly compelling document of a confident band operating
at the peak of their powers. Produced by Tom Dalgety (Royal Blood/Band of Skulls/Turbowolf) at Blast studios in Newcastle-upon-Tyne
and featuring cover art by long time collaborator Nigel Rolfe (Troublegum, Suicide Pact You First,
A Brief Crack Of Light), its both the most accessible record Therapy? have made in two decades, and a reaffirmation
of their healthy respect for noise, chaos and unsettling psychodrama.
We wanted to write something a bit more anthemic again, explains vocalist/guitarist Cairns. In May last
year we did a 20th anniversary tour for the Troublegum album, and it was completely sold out, and it was great
hearing those songs sung back at us, and seeing what they meant to people. Clearly it would be idiocy for us to attempt to
recreate Troublegum, because that was a different era, and a different band line-up, but the starting point for
this album for me was thinking What would the protagonist of Troublegum be doing twenty years on? Our last two
albums [2009s Crooked Timber and 2012s A Brief Crack of Light] were more experimental
and diverse, and we already knew that he wanted to go back to more song-based stuff this time around, so that
conceptual idea dovetailed perfectly with what we planned in terms of the musical direction.
For those unfamiliar with Therapy?s storied past, 1994s Troublegum set represented what Cairns recalls as a
leap of faith for both the band and the partisan fan-base they had accrued in the first five years of their career.
Following the release of a self-financed seven inch single (Meat Abstract) on their own Multifuckingnational Records label
in 1990, the trio then featuring drummer Fyfe Ewing - recorded two corrosive mini albums, 1991's Babyteeth and 1992's
Pleasure Death, for the respected London independent label Wiiija, with both collections attaining Number 1 status on the
Independent music charts in the UK and Ireland. A major label bidding war duly ensued, with the trio ultimately signing to
A&M Records: the labels faith in their new charges was repaid promptly with the delivery of first a Top 30 single (the
wilfully abrasive amphetamine-abuse anthem 'Teethgrinder') and subsequently a Top 40 album (Nurse) in 1993.
With the following years Troublegum album, however, Therapy? surpassed all commercial expectations. An impossibly thrilling
collision of razor-sharp pop melodies, metallic riffs and caustic punk rock attitude, the 13 track collection plays out as
a whip-smart, cynical yet open-hearted teenage journal, a dog-eared, tear-stained survivor's manual for adolescent souls
cast out into the Hell of modern existence. An album which distilled the aggression, black humour and off-kilter experimentation
of the trios early releases into electrifying short sharp shocks, Troublegum transformed the Northern Irish misfits
into the nations most unlikely pop stars, spawning no fewer than five Top 40 singles (Screamager, 'Turn',
'Nowhere', Die Laughing' and Trigger Inside') and clocking up a cool million sales worldwide, scoring a Mercury Music
Prize nomination in the process. It was, recalls Cairns, the album where I was able to be the guy standing in front
of the mirror with a tennis racket, miming on Top Of The Pops.
It was never in the game-plan to make a melodic rock record, but it ended up succeeding, Cairns notes. But
then people began to look at us differently. If you have a successful album, youre meant to keep your eyes on the prize
and quote give the kids what they want: our next album was meant to be a big mainstream rock record.
We were being marketed as a European version of Metallica-meets-Depeche Mode, but that wasnt really what we were about.
So things turned out rather differently than anyone imagined.
Beginning with the subversive, fearless and schizophrenic Infernal Love album, Therapy? gleefully spent the following 20
years re-writing the conventions of what is expected from a successful rock act, releasing a string of critically acclaimed,
fiercely individualistic albums which married their experimental roots with an increasingly sophisticated harnessing of distortion
and dynamics. The recruitment of Neil Cooper on drums in 2002 only strengthened the collectives desire to transcend
genre boundaries and forge a unique, challenging catalogue of work. In 2014 the trios tireless creativity and restless
artistic derring-do was acknowledged on home turf when they were presented with the Oh Yeah Legends award (previous
recipients: Stiff Little Fingers, The Undertones, Gary Moore) at the Northern Irish Music Prize ceremony in Belfast. Which
brings us neatly up to date, and to the release of an album which draws together the disparate threads of the bands
history in a beautifully streamlined, impactful and hard-hitting collection.
In constructing Disquiet we went back to the old-fashioned way in which Troublegum was written, explains Cairns,
whereby Id take my guitar, play a song, record it on my phone and then send the song to the guys finished,
in terms of lyrics, melody and guitar chords. We started with 19 songs, demoed 18 of them and then worked with Tom [Dalgety]
to select the ones that best represented what we were trying to do with this record. And were genuinely delighted with
how things have turned out.
From the brilliant, brutalist wake-up call of snub-nosed opening track Still Hurts (Each year, it gets worse. It wont
stop, still hurts) through to the aching, end-of-the-world desolation of closer Deathstimate (The road ahead looks
shorter than the one behind
), Disquiet is Therapy? at their sharpest and most focussed, a weighty, undeniably
powerful and emotionally affecting body of work which both builds upon the bands acclaimed catalogue and opens up new
creative horizons. Updating the angst-filled Troublegum story with searing honesty and no little wit, its a fascinating,
bold and belligerent set of modern rock anthems which stands toe-to-toe with the finest albums in the Therapy? canon. Cairns
offers a detailed dissection of the album in the notes that follow, but he laughs dryly when asked what he considers are the
lessons learned by Troublegums older, wiser but no less satisfied central character twenty years on.
I dont think the albums protagonist is a happier man, he muses, but I think hes a more
capable man in terms of dealing with the world than the guy who wrote Troublegum was. Troublegum was largely impotent rage,
whereas Disquiet is more
considered anger. Were very proud of this album, and we feel that its another step
forward on our musical journey. Now we just cant wait for people to hear it