Therapy?
Troublegum


5.0
classic

Review

by DoofusWainwright CONTRIBUTOR (67 Reviews)
June 19th, 2015 | 77 replies


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Therapy? have fun putting the angry young male psyche under the microscope

It's always a source of wonder when a fledgling act with just a scrappy debut album under their belts emerge a mere year later with a fully formed classic. This was certainly the case in 1994 when the still wet behind the ears Northern Irish three-piece Therapy? dropped 'Troublegum' on an unsuspecting public; rarely has there been such a marked increase in quality between a first and second album, and it arrived at the most opportune time imaginable having no trouble peeking the interest of both the rock and indie crowds. Therapy? had the riffs and a well cultivated outsider aesthetic that instantly appealed to fans of heavy music yet also boasted slyly subversive lyrics and weren't afraid to employ a lighter touch when required which won them the support of the indie community. 'Troublegum' would prove to be the only time they truly mastered this tightrope act of balancing perfectly between these two stools and as such it's no surprise that despite recording no less than ten subsequent albums this is still widely regarded as their defining work.

Comparisons with other artists are difficult as Therapy? for the most part stood apart from the crowd, one contemporary act that bore certain similarities to them were the Manic Street Preachers who'd also just followed up a lacklustre album ('Gold Against the Soul') with their own magnum opus, humbly titled 'The Holy Bible'. Both albums take the listener into the dark recesses of the human psyche but that is where the similarities end in so much as for a listener to truly relate to 'The Holy Bible' in relation to their day to day existence they'd effectively need to be a suicidal history student with an encyclopaedic knowledge of serial killers. 'Troublegum' was the complete opposite in this respect being totally relatable to any young male aged between their late teens and early twenties. I'm aware that singling out the male gender here may appear sexist but there's no getting around the fact that this album serves as one of the greatest ever monuments to formative masculine angst. The genius here is that the tone of this work never takes a turn towards the misogynistic as Cairns' lyrics always make you fully aware that his focus is set exclusively on the male mind and it's inherent weaknesses.

The lyrics pull no punches and are enough to make grown men wince. 'Masturbation saved my life' anyone? How about 'you never make love with a smile on your face'? Maybe 'here comes a girl with perfect teeth, I bet she won't be smiling at me' is the one that registers deep? If none quite capture that certain je ne sai quoi for you perhaps the last 15 seconds of full throated screaming that close the tellingly titled 'Unrequited' will drive it home. The honesty and raw emotion on display is head turning, what makes you keep listening to these lyrics is their level of wit and variety; Cairns has struggled to match this passionate outpouring ever since.

All this would of course fall flat if the music couldn't keep up with the words; needless to say such fears are misplaced as 'Troublegum' also sees the band peak in terms of both songwriting and musicianship. From the opening power chords of 'Knives' you can tell the band are pumped up, the drums wasting no time in laying down an incredibly tight rhythmic foundation from the off. The first five songs come thick and fast flowing into one another perfectly, the pop hooks of 'Screamager' and 'Nowhere' offset by the chugging riffs of 'Hellbelly' and breakneck pace of 'Stop it You're killing Me'. Therapy? show their range with moodier offerings like 'Unbeliever' and 'Turn', as well as more experimental tracks like the unrelenting 'Femtex' and the quirky vocal workout 'Unrequited'. The inclusion of a cover version of Joy Division's 'Isolation' is another masterstroke and a trick they pulled off again on their next album 'Infernal Love' which included a dark reading of Husker Du's murder ballad 'Diane'.

It is rare to conclude that a fourteen song album is devoid of any excess fat or bloat but that is the case with 'Troublegum', quite simply one of the most consistent rock albums of all time.



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user ratings (244)
Chart.
4.3
superb
other reviews of this album
therapy20 (5)
Northern Irelands classic album that still stands head and shoulders above most...

superpeer (5)
...

Neoteric (4)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
June 19th 2015


9604 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Ok last one for a while, heading out, haven't proof read - just loving a bit of Therapy? at the moment

Digging: Current Value - Biocellulose

SnakeDelilah
June 19th 2015


17373 Comments


ok so why do people like this again

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
June 19th 2015


9604 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

cos it's good Snake

SnakeDelilah
June 19th 2015


17373 Comments


'Masturbation saved my life'
'you never make love with a smile on your face'
'here comes a girl with perfect teeth, I bet she won't be smiling at me'




so this band is essentially weezer if they were a UK butt rock band

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
June 19th 2015


9604 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Exactly

Tbh I'm no fan of Weezer so I wouldn't know how tongue in cheek they are

This album is stating all men are capable of this mindset/behaviour and it's scary/pathetic so I'd compare them to the band Pissed Jeans if you know 'em

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
June 19th 2015


7962 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

so this band is essentially weezer if they were a UK butt rock band



ok so why do people like this again



unquestionably the 2 stupidest posts you've ever made Snake.



great review Doof, what's your thoughts on Infernal Love?

Digging: Boosie Badazz - Happy Thanksgiving & Merry Christmas

SnakeDelilah
June 19th 2015


17373 Comments


):

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
June 19th 2015


7962 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i like you Snake but c'mon wtf are you smoking

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
June 20th 2015


9604 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Arcade - Infernal Love is their second best and really interesting, it's nowhere near as consistent as this though.

They really tried to look at love and lust from a more adult/mature perspective and it's a great companion piece to this. I can understand why people found it a bit poncey at the time with the album cover/segues between songs/poetic lyrics but I liked it then and I still like it now

zakalwe
June 22nd 2015


19600 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cool!!!

This album was immense back in the day

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
June 22nd 2015


9604 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Zak so tempted to do a review of Senser 'Stacked Up' lol

What would the sput cats make of that one?

zakalwe
June 22nd 2015


19600 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

probably love it, you never can tell with this lot. I always thought they were like rage against the machine crossed with stereo mcs but twice as horrific as that sounds.

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
June 22nd 2015


9604 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

They were horrific in the most entertainingly awful way imaginable - will spin it at some point and see if it makes me laugh enough to review it

WilhelmBlack
December 20th 2015


599 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0



"so this band is essentially weezer if they were a UK butt rock band"



Dude, Weezer sucks compared to Therapy?, I actually haven't listened to Infernal Love. I have listened to their first two albums and the quality of songwriting and instrumentation is so much lower compared to Troublegum. The EP that changed it all was "Hats Off To The Insane", that is when Therapy were climbing towards the pinnacle of their career. Troublegum being that pinnacle.

WilhelmBlack
December 20th 2015


599 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Also, Doofus, you nailed it man and I love this review.

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
December 20th 2015


9604 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks Wilhelm, nice 'Troublegum' rating you got there

Davil667
January 18th 2016


1981 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great read Doofus! Just rediscovered this again, still a kickass album.

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
January 18th 2016


9604 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

That it is Dav, thanks



Screamager fading into Hellbelly - there's still not a lot better than that

Davil667
January 18th 2016


1981 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

First three tracks in a row create an unstoppable momentum. Such a strong opening.

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
January 18th 2016


9604 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah Side A is slightly stronger but this is that rare 14 track album with zero clunkers



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