(Planet Me)
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
THERAPY? Infernal Love.

The summer of 1995. I was 21, 22. It was a bright, warm summer. And in it, the streets were full of shaggy Paul Weller haircuts, of patterned shirts by Ben Sherman, of bright blue jeans, of bands that sounded like The Kinks, The Beatles, that sounded like 30 years past, bands where the abyss was the black of Guiness, and it wasn't so much to be acknowledged but ignored, pretend it doesn't exist, and look! Beer! Girls! Music! Lose yourself in a white line, and all that Champagne Supernova fluff.

No wonder in that Therapy? were the nail that stuck out and would not lie down. After the enormous aberration that was “Troublegum”, the follow up “Infernal Love” was – at best – a band at the height of its creative abilities sheering away from the pack. At the the time, the fake moustaches, the loud black/red suits, the somewhat atonal songs that were neither rock, metal, indie or pop, and yet, all of those songs at the same time, slithered on unpredictable drum patterns that sounded like angry Jazz, and fell through the cracks. No one at the time was that interested in hearing songs of furious, infernal love, of loss, or a 'first side' that moved between the odd pop song - “Infernal Love” birthed three singles, it's predecessor “Troublegum”, a stunning Jacksonesque seven - and dense and coiled growls such as “A Moment Of Clarity”. It's no wonder that for Therapy? It was all a commercial state of more selective fans. The following three years saw Fyfe leave mid-tour, largely radio silence, the birth, life, and death of Britpop which was just about kicking its last when the follow up record “Semi-Detached” appeared in early 1998. For some, though “Infernal Love” joined its two peers – Suede's lauded “Dog Man Star” and the Manics equally personally-apocalyptic “The Holy Bible” in a pantheon of misery classics : dense records made of self-examination and then pouring that energy out into the world around it, records that rewarded repeated exposure.

This is Therapy?'s best record. An 11 song, 49 minute spiritual epic designed for headphone listening. If you wanted to hear bubblegum rock like Green Day, back off, because this is a better band than Green Day ever even hoped to be : if nothing else, “Infernal Love” seperated itself from the oompah oompah nonsense with a commitment to the material. You don't write songs with lyrics like “A face like a bruised vulva, an ass like Jesus' son”, or “Let me try on your dress”, if you're planning on throwing a copy into every front room and headlining stadiums. The trio, who have evolved with every record, then expanded to include Martin McCarrick, former Siouxsie & The Banshees cellist who became a lynchpin of the bands sound for many years as guitarist, cellist, and everything-else-ist, and Andy Cairns – the best songwriter in Ireland that decade, forget Bono – gave us songs as compelling as “A Moment Of Clarity” and “Me Vs You”, that explore in brutal detail the obsessional nature of love and ex-love, and this record really is that of “Infernal Love”, where love is a inferno that burns, a level of hell, where seperation and betrayal are a spiritual torture, this music a roadmap through the wasteland of post-romance desolation, and yet, in every second, there's a defiance, “Here Comes The Misery!”, a stubborn fight to tackle this head on, to wrestle abandonment with a fighting spirit, a need to defeat the depression. Come out fighting with all guns blazing. This is one of the best records of the decade of its birth.

The remastering (by Harvey Birrell) is clear and concise. Somewhat sadly, there are some missed opportunities in this reissue : namely, the David Holmes interludes (that interrupt the flow of the record) are retained, despite being excised for the Japanese release of the album. Additionally, there are some songs not included (An alternate version of “Bowels Of Love” by Andy Cairns solo Mondo Paddy, is absent). Also some live material from the time is not present, though there isn't much space and simply might not have fit on. It's a comprehensive recollection of the extra material that was issued at the time, but its not everything, and there's plenty of extra stuff that isn't on here.

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