I got hooked on these Northern Irish pain merchants when their album 'Nurse' hit the streets in 1992. A strange feat indeed since I, at the time, had barely ventured into the realm of heavy, noisey and industrial-tinged punk at all. Come to think of it, I never have since either really. However, 'Nurse' brought something else to the fray that appealed to me and I have been a fan of the band ever since. If that album got me into the band, the 1994 follow-up, 'Troublegum' totally blew me away and became an important staple in the soundtrack of my college years.
What struck me the most of 'Troublegum' is the much heavier approach than on it's predecessor. The punk and industrial parts are there, but have taken a considerable step back which suits the lyrics much better. Always writing and singing about troubled and disturbed minds, that aspect opened up fully here and hit home with me immediately. I mean already in the first track, 'Knives' they sing: '...I'm gonna get drunk come round and fuck you up, I'm gonna get drunk come round and fuck you up and you can't help my life but you can hide the knives'. Hmmm, doesn't get more intense and screwed up than that. Well, continue to listen and you'll hear more tales from the dark side.
To this day, there are two songs I return to first whenever I play 'Troublegum'. The moment 'Unbeliever' burst to life was monumental. The guitar alone is a bulldozer of the mind burrowing into my head to release the demons. And once Andy starts to sing the chains are broken and the lunacy begins: '...Don't belong in this world or the next one, wasting every day to my own end. Feeling awkward, feeling clumsy, hating everything I've ever done before. Then you leave me like the others, leave me too much time on my own, on my own, on my own, on my own'. As if this isn't enough the maniacal 'Trigger Inside' follows right after, and it's even crazier. Therapy? drives up the tempo considerably where the fantastic rhythm work from McKeegan and Ewing are laying waste to everything around them. This allows Cairns absolute freedom to unleash the insanity whichever way he wants to on the guitar and lyrically: '...my head, it won't switch off when I'm alone. I got a trigger inside, I got a trigger inside, I got a trigger inside, I get the feeling I've been cheated. I got a trigger inside...'. Beautiful, that's all I can say people...beautiful!
Other very, very goods songs are 'Hellybelly', 'Stop It, You're Killing Me', 'Die Laughing' and an amazing rendition of Joy Division's 'Isolation'. They all follow perfectly with this album's theme of portraying the wretched souls in society, after all their website greeting is 'We Are Therapy? Helping The Afflicted Since 1990. They are also bringing forth acts of shallowness in the name of want and greed. Although released in 1994 these themes are more poignant than ever nowadays. Timelessness, indeed for better or worse.
The nucleus of Cairns and McKeegan are still keeping Therapy? going after Fyfe Ewing left in 1996, some time after 'Infernal Love', the follow-up to 'Troublegum', had been released. The success sales-wise of this particular album has never been matched, but the band has never given up. And they are still making great twisted music. Check them out, you hear!