Having burst onto the scene with their 2005 debut, Rise – notably including what must rank as one of the truly great modern rock anthems, ‘Under the Sky’ – The Answer consolidated their position as one of hard rock’s brightest prospects in style with their sophomore opus, Everyday Demons (2009). Now, on the back of their prestigious opening slot on AC/DC’s recent world tour, Cormac Neeson and the boys are hoping to take things to a new level and, as the singer puts it in their current album’s liner notes, “own the next decade”. Bold words indeed – but exactly what we want to hear from any self-respecting rock ‘n’ roll band with a heart. The question is, is Revival up to the job?
The first thing to note is just how fired up the boys sound, with the opening triple-punch of ‘Waste Your Tears’, ‘Use Me’ and ‘Trouble’. From the moment the blues-noodling that introduces the album gives way to the opening cut, the listener is left in no doubt as to how much their globe-trotting antics with the no-nonsense hard rock legends from down under have revitalised them, nor how inspired they have been by the location in which they recorded the album (being Sonic Ranch, in deepest Texas). The familiar reference points – Free and Led Zeppelin – are still there in spades, but a distinct southern twang in the playing is more to the fore than ever; just check out Paul Mahon’s scorching solo on ‘Caught on the Riverbed’ for a classic case in point. The band play with such energy and brio on these songs that you can’t help delighting in the sheer exuberance of this utterly focussed and delightfully unpretentious unit. Meanwhile, there is ‘Nowhere Freeway’, featuring guest vocals from Saint Jude frontwoman Lynne Jackaman and one of the biggest hooks on the album. It is a joyful rush, and, for my money, one of the songs of the year; likewise, ‘Vida (I Want You)’ bores itself into your consciousness by the second chorus and promises to be a rip-roaring communal delight in live performance. I would also like to make special mention of the short-but-sweet semi-ballad ‘Can’t Remember, Can’t Forget’ which, for me, is a real highlight; although he’s a very different kind of singer, I can’t help but be reminded of Mark Slaughter by Cormac, just because his voice sounds so incredible in the higher registers. Replete with backing vocals and a storming fast section, the equally infectious ‘One More Revival’ brings proceedings to a breakneck crescendo before the boys take it down to conclude on a more introspective note with the brooding ‘Lights are Down’. All in all, the album is a tour de force of vibrant, passionate hard rock which I would heartily commend to anyone who wants the genre to continue to flourish in the coming years and decades (take care to get the limited edition while it’s hot, too, which contains the bonus After the Revival disc, featuring plenty of goodies, including excellent acoustic and alternative takes on some of the album’s best songs).
So, about owning the decade? Well, it’s quite an ambition, and time will have to tell on that one. However, if these highly talented and immensely likeable lads from Northern Ireland can turn out albums of this quality every couple of years, they’ll certainly stake a strong claim. Like the rest of us, they don’t have all the answers – but they’re definitely part of the solution!