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Liquid Therapy – Breathe

Liquid Therapy
Breathe
by Andrew Graham at 15 October 2020, 7:03 PM

“Breathe” is the debut album from Belgian rockers LIQUID THERAPY. The ten tracks on offer take listeners through emotional territory that is familiar to anyone with a few life experiences under their belts. Largely sitting in the tradition of bands that occupy the post-grunge movement, they nonetheless set out (successfully I think) to do something unique and original.

Sub-genres can often be helpful in describing the music people play and listen to, however they can very limiting if overused. The genre constraints one operates within can become chains, imposing savage limitations on what you can reasonably say with your music. Therefore, it can be advantageous make an executive decision early on not to be constrained by hard borders around genre-boxes.

However, this is difficult to do well, as the influences and musical upbringing brought to the table often seeps its way into the mix. Such is the case with today’s band, LIQUID THERAPY. Whilst these fine Belgian gentlemen state clearly that they defy conventional boundaries and “can… not be put in a box”, from even the first track there’s more than a passing resemblance to the finer moments of post-grunge practitioners like BREAKING BENJAMIN. Before I’m accused of genre-boxing before I’ve even started, I want to clarify my position and why it’s worth mentioning.

It’s so difficult to do something wholly original in an era largely characterised by a feeling that everything’s been done. To paraphrase Alfred North Whitehead’s (in my opinion, overly reductive) statement that the entire tradition of European philosophy is a “series of footnotes to Plato”, we might be inclined to characterise all of rock music in the Western tradition as a series of footnotes to The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Elvis, or however far back you want to go. I don’t I endorse this argument to such an extreme degree. Nor do I think that LIQUID THERAPY’S substantial nod to the influence of BREAKING BENJAMIN and others is necessarily problematic. For me two questions that really matter when appraising new music are: is it original, and does it have something to say?

So that I can be said to have fully laid my cards on the table, I REALLY like BREAKING BENJAMIN. So for me, the passing resemblance was very welcome, and It’s a formula that works. As is often say of such things: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! LIQUID THERAPY certainly puts the formula to good use whilst adding enough of their own flair and distinct character to elevate it above a mere carbon-copy imitation.

Emotional kerb-stomper “When Love Fools You” opens the album, displaying precisely the kind of catchy chorus-writing that makes this kind of rock so addictive – a very strong opener to be sure! “Keep on Going” hands us more relatable lyrical material. This is one of the album’s biggest strengths. As with the very finest examples in this genre (whatever genre that is exactly!) the lyrical material refers to emotional experiences and traumas that we can all relate to – particularly those of us with more than a few emotional miles on the clock!

“Payback” continues a, thus far, unbroken string of strong tracks with a much punchier motif, immediately evident from the title. Feelings of wanting revenge for perceived wrongs continues the relatable themes on display. “Scars of Life” starts out a little goofy, the opening line delivered a little over-the-top from vocalist Bart. Other than this small moment, the track is strong. The lyrics here are specific enough to make it obvious what is under discussion, whilst open enough to interpretation to be instantly recognisable in the emotional baggage of all of us.

“Fly Away” relates a desire to escape and to leave problems and stresses behind us – if there’s only one theme on this album I would have to describe as universal to everyone, it’s this one! This makes “Fly Away” a real highlight, renewing momentum at the half-way point in the album. “Sober” and “Control” relate feelings of inner struggle – against addiction and compulsion in the former, and against conventions and… well… control in the latter. They manage to effectively convey feelings of struggle against boundaries and confinement.

I Don’t Care” reminds us all of our teenage feelings about others, characterised primarily through this sentiment. Even though (for some of us…) those years are rather far behind us, it is still familiar enough to momentarily bring these feelings back. “Rat Race” has an almost bluesy feel about it, which is masterfully paired with the theme of the song. We are almost used to pairing our gripes with the everyday grind of work in the language of the blues so this is actually quite a clever take on that trope! “Breathe” closes the album in a nine-minute epic that has highs and lows, loud blaring moments and quiet introspective pauses. A worthy closing track to the album that shares its name.

One of the reasons the album has such power is that the recording and mixing is virtually spot on. The dual guitars of Davy and Gino form a dense canvas against which Luc’s punchy drums and Bart’s vocals paint fine details in an eloquent emotional language, and that Hans’ complimentary and satisfying basslines are clearly heard – much to the benefit of the mix! The production quality, for a relatively new band, is very impressive. This is an impressive debut, with expert musicianship and fine song writing on display. The emotional content carried by the lyrics and guitar work is relatable and very catchy. With more performance, writing, and experience these guys certainly have the capacity to make more and greater music – which I very much look forward to hearing.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
  1. When Love Fools You
  2. Keen on Going
  3. Payback
  4. Scars of Life
  5. Fly Away
  6. Sober
  7. Control
  8. I Don’t Care
  9. Rat Race
  10. Breathe
Lineup:
Bart Costenoble – Lead Vocals
Davy Gheerardyn – Guitar and backing Vocals
Gino Lippens – Guitar
Hans Van Den Hende – Bass
Luc Van Dyck – Drums
Record Label: Independent
     


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Edited 20 October 2020
 

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