THE ANSWERING MACHINE – Another City, Another Sorry (Heist Or Hit)
Manchester four piece The Answering Machine emerged in a blaze of anticipation about three years ago, with a bunch of songs that had A&R men salivating. Having now ditched their drum machine and recruited a real drummer, they have also honed those songs for this debut album. Nearly every review has mentioned the Strokes as a big influence, and while I suppose at times I can hear it in the furiously strummed guitars and energetic delivery, I would say that there is also a healthy dose of punk in there, but with a melodic edge to their songs which makes them instantly accessible. The title track kicks things off with its Arctic Monkeys vocal stylings and Strokes-ish guitar, and is a good introduction to the sound of the band, which tends not to vary much from this template. ‘Obviously Cold’ is more of the same, while ‘Oh, Christina’ keeps up the pace but adds in a catchy chorus line which, given the right push, could see them gain some radio play. ‘Tomorrow’ is another urgent rocker with a sing-along chorus, while the intro to ‘Cliffer’ abandons the strident guitar thrashing for a nicely picked guitar line, but adds in some heavy riffing for the chorus. ‘Emergency’ is a chance for you to catch your breath, with the band slowing down for a pleasant ballad, enhanced by some nice keyboards. The riffs are back for ‘Oklahoma’, which had already been a single for them back in 2006, and together with ‘Lightbulbs’ they are two older songs given a reworking by the new all human band, and sounding great in the process. ‘It’s Over! It’s Over! It’s Over!’ is a bit of a departure for the band, in that the verses are generally more subdued and the chorus packs more of a punch because of that, with the added bonus of backing vocals to flesh it out. ‘The Information’ is a short acoustic piece which showcases the gentler side of the band, and it is perhaps at this point that you realise that prior to this song the rest of this album has careered along in something of a blur. The songs are great while you are listening to them, but they don’t really leave any lasting impression, and tend to coalesce into one big mass of noise once they are over. ‘You Should Have Called’ goes some way to rectifying this with additional vocals by Gemma Evans and a more reflective feel than the indie-pop thrash of the rest of the songs, and with a few more of these included on their next album it could be the one to introduce them to a much wider audience.