If Therapy? ever lived up to its name, it would dole out treatment of the cathartic variety. The band from Ulster is known not for soothing nerves - more for its songs about nervous wrecks. Five releases down the line - two on the independent Wiiija imprint and three on a major - Therapy? was last seen, two years ago, wearing fake moustaches in black-and-white photographs, doing flamingo postures on the beaches in Rio. Its last live outing was at the Brixton Academy, in the style of heavy corporate rock bands. For those familiar with its punk-goth-metal roots, worries abounded - had the band lost the plot already? The worry proved unnecessary, however, with the release of Semi-detached, as Therapy? tuned themselves back to what they do best. The band's two-year hiatus prompted a metamorphosis with original drummer Fyfe Ewing replaced by Graham Hopkins and long-time cohort Martin McCarrick joining as second guitarist to frontman Andy Cairns. 'We expected a lot of people to say 'We prefer it as a three-piece' or 'We prefer Fyfe as the drummer', but no one ever said that,' said McCarrick from Brixton, where the band was playing. 'The only difference is the sound - now with two guitars, the band is bigger-sounding. As people, we get on very well - I am obviously very pleased - but we have been friends for a long time so it was like a natural thing when Andy asked me to join the band full-time.' While Semi-detached marked the return of Therapy?, it was also a step back with the band going back to the basics of its major-label debuts Nurse and Troublegum. 'We wanted to make a more rock'n'roll record, in response to the music surrounding us in Britain at the moment - there is a lot of weak-sounding music, guitar-wise, and we wanted to change that slightly,' said McCarrick, who described the album as 'a noisy rock record from a straight-forward rock band', with inspiration from American ancestors like MC5 and the Stooges. And more importantly, Therapy? has forfeited the gothic melodramatics it honed to such perfection on its last album, Infernal Love, which propelled the band into the mainstream with neatly structured anthems such as Stories and Loose, and the memorably scary cello-and-voice cover of Husker Du's Diane. However, McCarrick - who has co-written and performed songs for Therapy? since its 1994 breakthrough Troublegum - conceded that although Infernal Love was good, it was not what Therapy? was about. '[Infernal Love ] was not a mistake - but it cleaned up the band and made the band sound polished and smooth,' he says. 'I don't think Therapy? has ever been about that - our live shows are fairly chaotic - but Infernal Love made the band sound very mature, and it was almost a bit of a depressing album. We did not want to be like that again - we wanted to make an album that was uplifting - not exactly happy, but something that would be inspiring.' From its small-label debuts to Semi-Detached, Therapy? has never been about sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. Buried beneath the avalanche of guitars and drums are dark tales of agony. Although Semi-Detached, admittedly, was more light-hearted than Therapy?'s early gothic testaments, the brooding melancholy surfaces in several songs, such as Safe : 'All this noise is making me nervous/I feel every slammed door and drunken laugh/Sometimes there's no room for breathing.' The track was inspired by a movie about a 20th-century woman allergic to modernity. McCarrick described the song as his favourite, as it enshrined what the music of Therapy? was about. 'People seem to be freaking out about the millennium,' McCarrick said. '[Safe ] was very observational as well - there are a lot of people who live with phobias. They are scared to be seen doing something different, to look different or be different. 'Everyone's supposed to be perfect all the time - being religious and good to people. It seems people don't like standing up for themselves.' This strength of mind may be why the band has withstood the torrents of change of the past five years. Therapy? has stood unfazed by the coming and passing of Britpop and Dadrock, to name just a few. 'We like the fact that we don't fit anywhere. 'There are so many areas of music that we are interested in, and that comes out in our sound - and that's good. Hence we feel detached from the music scenes a lot of the time.'