by superpeer USER (22 Reviews)
June 8th, 2006 | 16 replies

Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist

Semi-Detached was the last Therapy? album to sell reasonably well, although A&M didn't deem it necessary to release it in the US. (Consequently being their last record on that label). With the help of Troublegum producer Chris Sheldon it is basically the last album with that typical 90s rock sound Therapy? had in ... well, in the 90s, sample happy, powerful music with plenty of melody.

Although probably being the album that comes closest to Troublegum in terms of sound, it does sound brighter and it definitely seems like a happy camper compared to the festered what-used-to-be-a-heart piece of depression that was Infernal Love.

Cairns had much to live up to, after creating two masterpieces in two years, back in '94 and '95. (Troublegum and Infernal Love, as stated before) and thus having 3 years to do so. Something that was even more difficult after losing founding member and registered rhythm powerhouse, Fyfe Ewing, who apparently could no longer handle the stress of being on tour constantly with a big rock band, which is what Therapy? was, back in the 90s. Graham Hopkins was called in to replace him and whilst they were changing line-up, the remaining two members decided to ask Martin McCarrick, previously providing strings on earlier albums, to join as a second guitarist and cellist.

As said, this is brighter than anything that Therapy? had put out before, sunnier even, though not avoiding the usual melancholic topics (which is, after all, the best tone for a poem, according to the great Poe). The different and also more varied approach is immediately apparent on the opener, Church of Noise, which is a fairly silly feel-good song. The song is not short of a sample, as Therapy? was once quite keen on using witty samples, but is now mostly too poor to do so. "It takes more than intellect to be a musician, put your soul into it, okay?" is the one for this song and "Welcome to the church of NOISE" makes up the rather amusing chorus. Ending with a carnival-like accordion (or is it organ? feel free to correct me here) repeating the song's main melody, an upbeat tone is set, sometimes interrupted by another feel, for example by the haunting verses of the aptly titled paranoia song Tightrope Walker, which manages to turn paranoid lyrics into a singalong chorus.

Don't wanna look behind me
Don't wanna look beneath me
Every movement, every vibration
The addition of another guitarist has given Therapy? a slightly different approach to riffing, as there are more leads to be found and even some harmonised guitar sections, as showcased on the previously named song, as well as on the wonderfully catchy summer morning song Heaven's Gates, which also makes good used of harmonised vocals in the verse. And everyone likes songs about mornings, right?

Oh shit, here comes morning
Another ugly bang that I dreaded coming
Go back to sleep, let the curtains protect me
Keep them closed so the light won't get me

Stuck inside, afraid of big spaces
Too much noise and too many faces
All mail left unanswered
Kicking down my door like a final reminder

OK, but I'm not ready
I'll get up and go 'cos I feel so guilty
Is anybody there? The door's still ringing
It's not for me, just another religion
Right. Lonely Cryin' only is a special one, it's a half-parody, half-honouring of those sweet pop songs bearing their cheesy lyrics, which are also found here. Not lacking are the silly backing vocals and likewise video. Pure pop and as catchy as a sticky case of the flu. Not to forget, it is introduced by what has to be the best answer machine message ever. "Leave a message, or leave me alone".

An extract:

And if you're lonely (You're lonely), and you're cryin' all the time (You're cryin')
Heaven help me (Heaven help me), 'cos your heart's as dead as mine
We all go slowly (Go slowly) and time is catching up (Time is catching up)
If you would only (Only) give me two more minutes of your twisted love
Not every song is upbeat, obviously, you'll find the melancholy and the angry-at the-world-melody hitting you in the face from time to time. Black Eye, Purple Sky is an excellent song having that darker sound. Born too soon is similar, just not as good. The high-point in this dark category, and at that the whole album, and actually, one of the best songs they have ever made is Straight Life. Woe to those ignorant of the existence of this song. Slowly building, slightly spastic as if predicting the outburst of anger and sheer brilliance that is to follow, set to explode with Cairns screaming 'FUCKER!'. Heaviest, most powerful song on the album, with an obvious debt to metal music, containing imagery that portrays the anger in a way that gets to me every time.

My tongue is twisted from talking
My feet are blistered from walking alone
My head is bursting with thoughts
And every bruise feels so familiar

My arms are fed up reaching
My voice is through with breaking
Myself, I'm sick of reason
Every bruise feels so familiar

So don't tell me everything's alright
And don't include me in your straight life
The song is topped off with an excellent solo, plenty of which can be found throughout the album, notably on Straight Life, Heaven's Gate and Tightrope Walker.

Safe and Tramline are songs that contain some elements that are peculiar for Therapy? The former having slow verses and including piano and the latter being a mix of electronica and rock, only having one lyric line. Variation cannot be frowned upon, though.

Overall, Semi-Detached is not as tightly packed as say Troublegum and it takes quite a while before you can see it as a full album instead of a compilation, delayed even more by the peculiar roads Therapy? take on this album, like the repetitive Tramline and Stay Happy, in which the lead guitar is almost as surreal as the lyrics.

Kids waving, shake babies
Smile candy through splinters
Squeezed into ill fitting stitches
And The Boy's Asleep, which is a goodbye message in the form of a song, but great in its own right.

Thanks for coming, mind your step on the way home
The roads are busy, tonight just pick the ones you know
Thanks for coming, stick to all the places you've been
Thanks for coming again
But when you finally do grasp the album, it is well worth the effort and for me it ranks third in Therapy?'s discography. When I starting writing this, I planned to give it 4.5, but in hindsight, I can't help but give it a perfect rating, I'm truly sorry.

To conclude I cannot withhold this most appropriate line from Don't Expect Roses.

If you're looking for trouble, you can find me on the Internet, motherfucker


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user ratings (68)

Comments:Add a Comment 
June 8th 2006


Nice review, this might be my next Therapy? purchase.

June 8th 2006


iv got troublegum, and i've heard some of the more recent stuff, but a complete lack of anything between 1994 and 2002 therapy has been anywhere near my ears. time to sort that out...

great review btw!

June 8th 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

Thank you for the kind comments. (bump O=) )

June 8th 2006


Good review. You namedrop Poe as well, which is downright awesome...if this is sunnier than their other stuff than I may get it, since I feel bad about not having spent money on any of their albums yet. :-/

June 8th 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

Ah, but you always say that, Jonny. Infernal Love and Troublegum are better choices, but if you do pick this up, I'll be happy.

Staff Reviewer
June 9th 2006


Nobody likes Therapy? around here, it seems. 'Tis a shame.

June 11th 2006


Awesome review, Therapy? are sex.

June 11th 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

Thank you.

The Circle Jerks own as well. :thumb:

June 11th 2006


Look at me I've never heard Therapy?

June 11th 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

Shame on you.

June 11th 2006


Thank you sir may I please have another?

June 11th 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

No, you've had enough. Now go out and buy Therapy?'s entire discography, pronto!

August 14th 2010


Meh, it's okay. Can't touch Troublegum. Frankly, I don't care for any other album then Troublegum for some reason.

August 14th 2010


You're missing out massively then. The entire Therapy? catalogue is great, with great songs on every one. Crooked Timber didn't grab you?

August 14th 2010


Album Rating: 4.5

@imdaemon666: No comments. Just lol. What are you doing on this site anyway?

Digging: Hawk Eyes - Advice

Contributing Reviewer
February 11th 2012


I'd say the first half of the album is more simplistic than the second half, and in the second half we see much more alternative and deeper songs, such as 'Safe' and 'The Boy's Asleep'. A good album for those who are looking into Therapy?'s alternative rock movement.

Digging: Chelsea Wolfe - Birth of Violence

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