Above & Beyond raise the bar every year with their Anjunabeats collection, and given these and the success of their previous artist album Tri-State, there was plenty of pressure on A&B to make this a fantastic album. And by and large, not surprisingly, it is.
I have criticised other trance artists, Tiesto and Armin van Buuren for example, for using excess vocalists on some of their previous albums, with a view to becoming more commercial rather than adding a genuine improvement to their tracks. So when I realised that the majority of tracks on Group Therapy contained vocals, I became a little wary. But the vocals here, trance lovers, are not overbearing and are not there purely to earn money for the artist. For a start, only two different vocalists are used, Richard Bedford who sung on the stunning 'Alone Tonight,' and Zoe Johnston, who sung on the likewise 'Good For Me.' They have gone for vocalists that (a) are very good and that genuinely compliment A&B's music and emotions, and (b) that aren't well-known. They provide a refreshing thought-provoking ambience to each track and fit with the music perfectly.
OK, maybe personally I'd have preferred a couple more non-vocal tracks; after all we know A&B are more than capable at creating and mixing songs without vocals; but this is just my taste and the harder 'Nitrous Oxide' type trance side of me talking. To knock off a star for this may seem harsh but let's face it, they have set such a high standard in recent years. And to emphasise - none of the tracks are ruined by vocals; on the contrary, all are significantly added to because of them.
A&B are thoughtful people, and this thought and emotion is expressed in every song. You can dance to most of them but strangely relax to most of them as well, or at the very least the songs brew up thoughts of your own. And continuing with the thoughtful theme, each track has had goodness knows how much thought put into it, to make it totally perfect in their eyes.
A&B are dominating the trance and electronica music scene at the moment, with good reason. This album presents only a snapshot, yet an exceptional example of their talents. Long may their tracks and their label, Anjunabeats, continue.