The Answering Machine - Cliffer

Alex Cocks 17/03/2009

Rating: 3/5

Manchester based four piece The Answering Machine release their fourth single “Cliffer” almost three years after releasing their first. Having signed to Parlophone at a critical time for the major, they found themselves released after parent label EMI's financial crisis (which started long before the current economic downturn) and buyout by venture capitalists Terra Firma. Rather than fester at the perceived injustice of the machinations of the record industry they return with their strongest songs to date released on independent label Heist or Hit which provide a strong showcase for their upcoming debut album Another City, Another Sorry.

Replacing their long term drum machine Mustapha Beat with a real person (Ben Perry) and recruiting Dave Eringa to produce the record (previous production credits include Manic Street Preachers,Idlewild and Kylie) has paid dividends, with the dynamics of their sound greatly enhanced. Perry's floor tom heavy drum work propulses “Cliffer” forward alongside the strident twin guitars and driving bass, recalling Hope Is Important era Idlewild. Boy/girl vocals and the sheer energy of the song position them somewhere between Los Campesinos! and Johnny Foreigner. B-side “Your Home Address”, with it's Strokes aping spartan one note/one chord introduction, keeps the energy high but lacks the angular punch of the New Yorkers best material.

The core members met at university in Manchester, and the fears of post academic life clearly informs much of their writing, with vocalist Martin Colclough imploring us to “Fall in, fall in line”on “Cliffer”. Not lacking in confidence (“This album has become a statement about the confusion and challenges facing our generation” states Colclough), “Cliffer” will see them propelled to the next level of indie disco favourites. They may have lofty ambitions, and rightly so, though whether it becomes the clarion call for our generation remains to be seen. “Cliffer” is a highly polished release that won't affect the musical landscape but it's energy and melodic strengths will capture many an ear.

Release date: 09/03/09