While few people today realize who Therapy? are, they are best known perhaps for the albums Shortsharpshock EP (1993), Troublegum (1994), and their stellar cover of the Black Sabbath song “Iron Man” alongside the Oz-Man himself on the Nativity In Black tribute album. After all that happened in the ’90s, they all but vanished from the spotlight, still playing a few shows here and there and recording albums. The new album A Brief Crack of Light is their thirteenth studio album overall.
Preceded by the single “Living in the Shadow of the Terrible Thing,” this is one of the heavier and more straightforward songs on the record. After an exploding heavy yet simple introduction, Michael McKeegan bass line kicks in coupled with Andy Cairns’ creepy and unique vocals. While the verse lines are easy to understand, the chorus is somewhat muddled together and just doesn’t fit the song. Still, the music makes this song worth checking out.
Their punk/alternative rock energy comes out with the next song “Plague Bell.” It’s got a weird vibe that can almost bring in the art-rock genre into play. The best kind of comparison that can be made would be mid-90s Primus, with slightly more structure and less bass. This is the kind of song you would see on an early Tony Hawk video game.
Giving the listener more of that off-putting vibe that only Therapy? can only pull off, “The Buzzing” is a standout song in their huge catalog. It has a heavy undertone that starts off at a Mystery Machine speed with a rather odd structure. At one point, complete chaos happens and the fabric of the song intentionally falls apart in a sonic cloud of dust, only to be rebuilt with a drum and bass foundation. Psychedelic guitars add on for a short time, then it’s right back to where they started. A rollercoaster of a song.
One thing that stands out when listening to this album is the band’s ability to take a very small yet standout piece from a previous song and use that to weave the tapestry for the next song. “Get Your Dead Hand Off My Shoulder” is a song that builds off of the psychedelic part of the previous song and breathes new life into it. Definitely not recommended to trip out while listening to it, if you haven’t caught my previous comments about their weirdness. A lyric from the song actually speaks for the song itself: “Murmuring, sinister resonance.”
Kerrang Magazine has deemed this as one of the top fifty albums to listen to in 2012, and “Ghost Trio” is one of the songs that holds that statement true. With a guitar sound that sounds like a piece of the infamous dueling banjos scene from the movie Deliverance, they play the same chords over and over again while Cairns just comes in whenever to speak a little. The drums seem to come and go and they please as well, but towards the end the guitar overcomes and stands alone.
A Brief Crack of Light is certainly an album that requires a developed taste for those who are spontaneous and quirky. There are random bits of music that follow structure (at times) but tend to get spaced out near the end. It’s worth checking out and you will either hate it or love it.