The final vocal line on Infernal Love might be "There is a light at the end of the tunnel," but there's no denying that Infernal Love is anything but optimistic; it's an unrelentingly dark and sometimes bluntly turgid record. Anyone familiar with the band had grown accustomed to Andy Cairns' spins on depression, anger, bitterness, and self-destruction, but even the most devoted listener probably screamed "Snap out of it!" while first listening to this third record. It's almost as if Therapy? went on a preemptive strike, just to make sure mainstream popularity slipped from its grasp. The band had a fair amount of momentum after the success of Troublegum, but Infernal Love seemed to leave that concept in the dust. Darker chords and slower tempos prevail, and the pop-punk hooks are all but washed away. The sequentially buried, bouncing "Loose" is an anomaly, sounding like a refugee from Troublegum that reads like a dystopian "Jack and Diane." Other than that, it's nothing but despair and heartache. What makes Infernal Love misunderstood is the musical depth, which is easy to miss from the endless doom. It's not one-dimensional at all, buoyed by mournful strings and stylistic curveballs. "Bad Mother" and "Stories" skank along in staccato rhythm, with the verses of the latter aided by swanky saxophones. "Bowels of Love" sounds like Andy Cairns and the Bad Seeds. If that's not enough of a departure, a cover of Hüsker Dü's "Diane" is nothing but voice and strings. David Holmes stitches everything together masterfully, employing numerous atmospheric effects and random trickery to give the record a cinematic flourish. If this is what Therapy? had in mind, the band hit the bullseye.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2