History is a fickle mistress, but few have been cuckolded quite like Therapy?. In 1993, we were fleetingly prepared to believe they were the future of punk and metal rolled into one. At their best, Thez sounded like techno played with guitars that ate people, plus tunes. So why, six years later, do they seem like a relic from a bygone age?
Well, maybe they slept with the devil, and the devil, he took them away. The devil in this case being heavy metal, with which they always flirted, but used to encase in a shell of razor-sharp pop spikes. Now they appear to have embraced it unequivocally, unironically, and ungratefully.
Every other song on ‘Suicide Pact – You First’ (a name which itself sounds like a mid-’80s Megadeth album title) manages to inelegantly echo old-school metal. ‘Jam Jar Jail’ is The Scorpions with ‘Poison’-era Alice Cooper on vocals. ‘Sister’, meanwhile, could easily be a recent Metallica B-side.
Now and again it works. ‘He’s Not That Kind Of Girl’ is a cartoonishly malevolent rocker, all quiet-loud explosions of angst, with Andy Cairns impersonating Tom Waits after he died one minute, Ian Astbury the next. The ‘Ten Year Plan’ is ‘Paranoid’-era Black Sabbath with Lemmy on vocals and all the better for it. Elsewhere, though, the would-be-shocking song titles, and the over-stylised Mummy-it’s-a-nasty-man voices reek of a band trying too hard to find a new identity.
To paraphrase that album title – Therapy? sell… but who’s buying this?