Review Summary: It's no 'Troublegum' or 'Infernal Love,' but Therapy? deliver yet another excellent release with 'Apologise.'
Closing in on nearly two decades since their formation, Belfast rockers Therapy? have prided themselves on consistency. While some artists may run out of steam as they press on to the twilight of their careers, Andy Cairns and his bandmates have excelled at releasing a diverse discography that has combined elements of punk, metal, and pop into a potent concoction that has become to define their trademark sound - look no further than 1994's Troublegum
for a brilliant example. However, the '90s have come and gone, and one could argue that Therapy? started to show signs of falling off the map in the new millennium. Fortunately, Never Apologise Never Explain
seems to debunk that assertion, although this release sports a much more acerbic vibe than its predecessors.
To explain, Never Apologise Never Explain
's tunings are strongly downtuned, and the guitars are notably more distorted than previous releases. This may be potentially attributed to the fact that the band reverted to a three-piece outfit beginning with this album, but in electing to go this route, Therapy? ultimately decided to return to an in-your-face mentality coupled with a feverish energy that made their earlier work incredibly appealing.
Therapy?'s punk influence is clearly showcased on this album, beginning right from the get-go with Rise Up (Make Yourself Well)
but even more clearly with Die Like a Motherfucker
. Drummer Neil Cooper shines in particular on the opening track, beginning with a steady introduction that gives way to a frenetic, chaotic verse "riff" that ignites Cairns' vocals before the distorted, sludgy guitars kick in with a monstrous chorus riff. The latter track features typical, if not expected, Cairns social commentary lyricism: "Atomized, itemized, and Super-Sized to death, short attention spawn, the curtains drawn: a generation takes its last breath. When you live like a fuck
er, you die like a motherfuck
er." Die Like a Motherfucker
also sports an insanely catchy instrumental passage, with aggressive riffing sprinkled with harmonics backed by steadfast percussion. Perish the Thought
concludes the album's trifecta of opening tracks, again backed by a stellar Cairns performance with quotable quotables such as "I could sleep for days given the chance, but I'm not in Dreamland now - reality avalanche" and "It could be worse, I could be you, but I perish the thought" exemplifying Cairns' tongue-in-cheek wit.
The album's middle core loses a bit of steam with tracks such as Here Be Monsters
and Polar Bear
, in which lukewarm, uninspired guitars fall short of supporting Cairns' tepid vocals that have one too many effects slapped to it. It's a shame, too, because both tracks are lyrically sound - "Monsters" is Cairns' plea for someone to tell him about the future, whereas "Polar Bear" sees Cairns taking on the perspective of a caged polar bear at the zoo - and Michael McKeegan's bass passages are terrific when not in support of the guitars. Fortunately, tracks such as the sarcastic So-Called Life
and the downright weird Rock You Monkeys
- the latter just screams to be cranked up loud - make up for the weaker numbers.
The album's concluding tracks are arguably as solid as the openers. Long Distance
is as close to a ballad as you'll get on this album, but it's nevertheless an album highlight. Behind McKeegan's simple, yet sturdy bassline, Cairns' storytelling is masterful: getting away from the city ("Forget the car and leave behind all communication") to a remote vacation home in solitude ("A simple lake, dirt tracks for days; I'm breathing clean, my eyes feel bathed") is an experience we'd all like to have once in awhile. "And if it makes you happy, then it doesn't make me sorry" is a personal favorite, which is repeated in mantra-like format over a robust main riff and engaging lead riff to finish the song. Save the Sermon
and Last One to Heaven's a Loser
are complete 180s, sending Never Apologise Never Explain
out on a combative, aggressive note, complete with short guitar solos and bombastic percussion.
In summation, Never Apologise Never Explain
doesn't quite bring to mind the classics Troublegum
or Infernal Love
, despite Cairns' return to some dreary and somber topics on the album, but it shouldn't disappoint fans of the Belfast group. The punk/metal/pop smorgasbord is refined, with this album being more parts punk and metal than pop. The instrumentation, despite being strangely downtuned and distortion-cranked, is generally very good, considering Cairns' vocal style, and both McKeegan and Cooper having numerous opportunities to shine as well. And as always, Cairns' sense of melody and sarcasm fails to disappoint, even with some tracks being uncanny or offbeat. In all, Never Apologise Never Explain
is bolstered by excellent bookends that assist a mixed bag of a middle core, and by all means should be considered for listening.
Die Like a Motherfuck
Save the Sermon