Infernal Love
Sam Taylor
There's one thing that I should remember," sings Andy Cairns on 30 Seconds, the final song on Therapy?'s third full-length album, Infernal Love. Oh yes, what's that? "There is a light at the end of the tunnel," he yells. Well, now he tells us. After 37 minutes of unadulterated angst, pain and despair, Therapy? stick a vaguely optimistic little Post-It note on the door of the medicine cabinet. The previous album, Troublegum (1993), was a similarly unhappy affair, but then the neuroses were tempered by catchy, upbeat tunes and the Belfast band's famed sense of irony. No one will describe Infernal Love as bubblegrunge. It's as heavy and dark as Metallica, as morose and melodramatic as Pink Floyd's The Wall; and it's great. Though still a trio, Therapy? seem to have extended their sound in all directions. Fyfe Ewing's drumming, maniacal but machine-like on previous records, now pounds and crescendos all over the place, and Cairns's guitar is dominant and varied in a way it never was before. His voice, still essentially a hoarse little thing, is multi-tracked and distorted into the larynx of Satan on Me Vs You and Bowels Of Love, the tension heightened by a string section. The latter, in fact, sounds like Tindersticks, up to the point when you realise Cairns is singing "You poured . . . maggots down my throat/Until I choked". The narrowness which was always the group's downfall has been jettisoned at last. This album ranges from the pop accessibility of Loose (which could have been lifted from Sugar's Copper Blue) through heaving epics like A Moment Of Clarity to an actual Bob Mould cover, Diane, which is a work of pure dark genius. Their transformation is complete.