Andy Cairns tells a great story about Therapy?s spring UK tour with The Stranglers. As the trio walked onstage in Kilmarnock, Scotland, their frontman noticed a solitary punter, three rows from the front, vigorously booing his band before a single amplified guitar chord had been struck. Each successive song in the set received the same vociferous, relentlessly hostile response. Two nights later, at Nottingham Rock City, the antagonist was back once more, front and centre, still booing, though with markedly less enmity than before. In Manchester, on the final night of the campaign, Cairns stepped from his tour bus to be confronted again by the by-now-familiar face of his new nemesis. This time, however, the guy was clutching a pen and a copy of Therapy?s classic 1994 album Troublegum. "Could you sign this for me please? he asked politely.
"I think wed battered him into submission, Cairns says with a laugh.
Its an instructive anecdote, both a testament to Therapy?s enduring capacity to win over hearts and minds with their singular, sui generis sound, and a reminder, in a broader sense, that even in the face of alienation, disaffection and discord, there remains hope for consensus, harmony and solidarity.
Which brings us, neatly, to Therapy?s fifteenth studio album, Cleave. Roughly themed around notions of duality and division, the bands follow-up to 2015s acclaimed Disquiet - and their first recording for new label Marshall Records is a sharply focused, fiercely intelligent, impassioned and empowering set of songs from a band operating at a creative and artistic peak. A scathing, incisive state-of-the-nation address, investigating the schisms in contemporary society and the motivations of those seeking to propagate disjuncture, its a powerful, challenging, uncompromising collection from a band never afraid to confront and dissect humanitys darkest impulses.