Sound — 8
Great albums tend to start with killer songs. "A Brief Crack of Light," the 13th album of Irish band with quite a cult following, Therapy?, is no exception. Kicking off with "Living in Shadow of Terrible Thing," a song which could easily be on their previous albums, "ABCOL" immediately gets the attention of the listener and doesn't let go of it until the very end. Andy Cairns' voice is as great as always and performances by both Michael McKeegan (bass) and Neil Cooper (drums) are flawless. The fans of the band will easily recognize the sound, despite the evolution it has experienced over the years Therapy? has been around. The album is rich in guitar effects, at times producing almost surreal atmosphere, which is the most prominent in the last song "Ecclesiastes." Cairns isn't afraid to make good use of the vocoder, which only adds to the feel of the album, already rich in all kinds of ambient background noises and effects used by the band.
Whether it's rawness of punk sound of their old releases, or sound of their latest albums, it has its own place in "A Brief Crack...". From the powerful "Living..." to the calm, simple "Ecclesiastes," the only issue to be had is that the sound can sometimes come as overly trebly, crystal, which without good gear to listen to the songs can discourage the listener.
Lyrics — 9
Cairns' lyrics, as usual, cover mostly topics related to the bleakness of one's existence, inability to move on and absurdity of the modern world. Although painting quite a depressing picture, the songs aren't void of hope and rather positive message - on example, "Plague Bell," dealing with being stuck in the past, indicates the stupidity of doing so, instead emphasizing the need of dealing with the present, and remembering about the days yet to come. It has it's, let's say, sequel, in "Ghost Trio" - another remarkable example of one's need to deal with the life as it is.
It is an unusual record for Therapy?, as there are practically no "silly songs," filled with black humour and Cairns' typical distance to the topics he's covering. Rather than that, it's a p-ssed-off, disappointed album, perhaps the most serious out of the whole discography of T?. That said, the lyrics are exceptional and in harmony with the songs - it is easiest to notice in the grand finale "Ecclesiastes." Starting with the line "Everything under the sun is absurd" and tackling the emptiness, it is a wonderful outro for the whole album.
Overall Impression — 8
Therapy? is an unusual band - most other, after having lost the spotlight in the end of '90s, never recovered and either devolved into parodies of themselves (here's to you, U2 and a certain UG-hated widow. Therapy?, on the other hand, endured the worse days and kept doing what they always did the best - writing great songs most people don't give a toss about. They are, perhaps, the coolest "uncool" band, absolutely deserving the cult status in Europe. "A Brief Crack of Light" is yet another proof that it is, in fact, possible to remain a great band despite the tremendous evolution one can experience. Lyrics and riffs are memorable and unlike most albums you can hear nowadays. Two years after its release, it still is as fresh as it was the day it hit the shelves. Therapy? Yes, please.