Golden Robot
rating icon 8.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Sundowners
02. Blood Brother
03. California Rust
04. Want You To Love Me
05. Oh Cherry
06. No Salvation
07. Cold Heart
08. All Together
09. Livin' On The Line
10. Get Back On It
11. Always Alright

Once tipped to be the saviors of (modern) classic rock, THE ANSWER have experienced the highs and lows of rock 'n' roll, while somehow keeping their collective dignity intact. Back when the Irishmen released their utterly riveting debut album "Rise" in 2006, they were so obviously a cut above the rest of the aspiring, revisionist pack that their elevation to stadiums seemed inevitable. They did play stadiums, of course, as chief support to AC/DC on their 2008/9 Black Ice World Tour, but despite that much-coveted gig and the self-evident quality of later albums like 2009's "Everyday Demons" and 2011's "Revival", THE ANSWER have never quite received their just desserts. The bold departures of their most recent album, "Solas", offered a glimmer of hope for a return to glory in 2016, but the rock media were far too busy with the mostly mediocre chancers that followed in this band's imperious (but slightly doomed) wake. It is, as they say, a shit business. No wonder THE ANSWER have been largely silent for the last seven years.

Fortunately for everyone who enjoys great songwriting, great singing and wall-to-wall, life-affirming riffs, THE ANSWER are essentially weather-beaten veterans these days, and "Sundowners" is the kind of album that truly great bands make when they genuinely couldn't give a fuck about chasing YouTube hits anymore. Always an irresistibly natural and convincing rock 'n' roll band, they have made a wholehearted return to the old-style, bluesy grooves and soulful anthems that first grabbed the world's attention. But rather than being a compromise position, these songs represent THE ANSWER in their natural habitat, reveling in the righteousness of the chemistry between a lineup that remains unchanged since day one. As an added bonus vocalist Cormac Neeson is on the form of his life and imbues every one of these songs with an abundance of spark, sass and disarming sincerity. In response, his comrades whip up storm after storm of gritty goodness. From the thick-tone, psychedelic rush of the opening title track and the riotous boogie-blues of "Blood Brother", to the wired and funky "Oh Cherry" and the fiery waltz of "California Rust", the combination of pure rock essence and the band's explosive delivery is profoundly satisfying.

Elsewhere, "No Salvation" is all unctuous gospel harmonies and barroom piano, "Cold Heart" struts like prime AC/DC, "All Together" gets its stripped-down, Jack White saluting freak on, "Livin' On The Line" is the best song THE BLACK CROWES never wrote, and "Get Back On It" is a swaggering, psychedelic rocker, belched up direct from some hissing, voodoo swamp. And then THE ANSWER drop "Always Alright", an impossibly sweet and elegant slice of country rock jangle that is tender and hopeful and ends with a hand-in-the-air crescendo that neatly encapsulates this triumphant and joyous record.

Don't accept cheap imitations. THE ANSWER are still showing everybody how this shit is done.

Author: Dom Lawson
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