Review Summary: Thick punishing grooves highlight the latest Therapy? offering. Definite improvement over the bands previous, "One Cure Fits All"
After a two year hiatus, the boys in Therapy? have re-emerged with Crooked Timber.
Crooked Timber is typical Therapy? in other words, it's different than the preceding albums, yet still retains a signature sound. But beware, this is not Troublegum2...and that's a good thing.
This album is much more akin to Therapy? more recent works "Never Apologise, Never Explain" and " One Cure Fits All" yet....is very different, just as those two were different from each other.
Whereas "One Cure Fits All" was all guitar hooks and big (often over-repetitive)choruses, and "Never Apologise Never Explain" was loaded with noise-alt and punk influences, Crooked Timber focuses more on the rhythm, laying out some of the heaviest grooves since the band's indie heyday. Just check out the track "Clowns Galore". After a harmonic filled 35 second opening, it busts into a groove Kyuss would be proud of.
Unlike "One Cure Fits All", the production and mix of "Crooked Timber" really helps drive the music along. It is simple akin to "Never Apologise Never Explain", but much clearer, and the music thumps where it's supposed to. The drums and bass are particularly accented on the album..and rightfully so. The dominating presence of the rhythm tandem of Michael McKeegan's bass and Neil Cooper's drums really are clearly the highlights of the album. Both members putting forth some of their best work ever.
On "Crooked Timber" Andy Cairns relegates his guitar to more of a supporting role, while at the same time, laying out some of his best vocal work in years. Gone are the Tom Waits impersonations or gutteral growls a little to frequent since "Suicide Pact...You First". This is his best vocal work since Semi-Detatched.
The album only has three missteps, none of which are fatal. The opener "The Head that Tried to Strangle Itself" is a bit of a weak opener, especially when compared to the five tracks that immediately follow it "Enjoy the Struggle"; "Clowns Galore"; "Exiles"; "Crooked Timber"; and "I Told You I was Ill". This quintet is one of the strongest consecutive runs of material on any Therapy? record. The second misstep is the 10-minute instrumental "Magic Mountain". More shocking than the appearance of a 10-minute instrumental on a Therapy? record, is the fact that it contains definite hints of classic "Cure" in it's melodies. Not a bad track, but would have been better used as a b-side.
The last misstep is the closer "Bad Excuse for Daylight"...again like the opener not a bad track, but just not a great choice to close. It's a bit too sluggish, and lingers a bit too long. These missteps are fairly minor, and by no means ruin "Crooked Timber" as a listening experience.
In all, Crooked Timber is another quality output from Therapy?, who continues to keep things fresh after 12 albums.