March 30, 2009

Review: The Answering Machine | Another City, Another Sorry

The soaring debut full-length from rising Manchester, England-based indie pop phenoms The Answering Machine is as big as we've been speculating it would be for months. And while we meant that metaphorically, we are surprised at how big it actually sounds in some places. Fortunately, it works, but it can be startling at first to hear certain tunes of the formerly scritchy-sounding, Strokes-influenced foursome clad in arena-scale production. Even so, the over-arching bombast and energy of the music and performances are more than enough to keep The Answering Machine from sounding like they are swimming in the sonic equivalent of David Byrne's too-big suit from the fantastic concert film "Stop Making Sense." Instead, the production and performance hint at an increased professionalism and confidence that is exciting to see in the band, which has spent several years leading up to the release of Another City, Another Sorry becoming an increasingly formidable rock outfit.

The sonic development is no more pronounced than on the very orchestrated re-imagining of the b-side "It's Over! It's Over! It's Over!" The track was originally released as the flip to the triumphant "Silent Hotels" single in 2007. The single version now sounds almost comically undersized in comparison to the electrifying rendering on Another City, Another Sorry, which touts crashing guitars, vast reverbs, metallic clangs and angelic, choral "aaaaahs." As with "It's Over! It's Over! It's Over!," much of Another City, Another Sorry is populated with new versions of tunes released as singles over the last few years. We are most excited by the material that was new to us, including the blistering title track, which surprisingly was not selected as either the first or second single from the new set. The undeniable first single, "Cliffer," was released March 9 and is obviously a winner. According to this recent post at The Answering Machine's blog, the next single from the full-length will be "Obviously Cold" -- a hot number for sure, and it has a wonderfully Peter Hook-esque bass line in the verse. That said, we have to believe it was a hard decision to choose between it and the barn-storming title track, and we wonder if the free availability of the song "Another City, Another Sorry" to bloggers rendered it ineligible by management for the vinyl 7" treatment. Other new tracks that rate high marks are the roller-disco-ready soul clapper "Emergency" and the uptempo romantic downer that closes the album with a proverbial bang, "You Should Have Called."

There is as yet no release date for the "Obviously Cold" single [here's a recent live performance], but the quartet is filming a video for it in Los Angeles during its short jaunt to the U.S. this week. The Answering Machine has numerous appearances lined up in L.A. over the span of three days, and then the act flies east to New York for a one-off at Mercury Lounge. Full details are posted at the band's MySpace hacienda right here. Heist Or Hit issues Another City, Another Sorry in the U.K. on May 25.

The Answering Machine -- "Another City, Another Sorry" -- Another City, Another Sorry
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The Answering Machine: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

1 comment:

Veee said...

not really sure about em-the voice sounds like the wombats singer...their 1st video is nice tho.