THE problem with the prevailing narrative about The Answer – that they were going to the Next Big Thing but never got there – is that NO-ONE became The Next Big Thing (OK, maybe Steel Panther).
But it’s true the County Down outfit haa occasionally drifted from their soaring blues rock canon, if not very far. Even though there isn’t one stellar track on Raise A Little Hell to match “Nowhere Freeway” from 2011’s Revival, this is their strongest collection of songs.
Recorded in Spain between running with bulls and drinking, the platter opens with the anthemic “Long Live The Renegades” – completed after the day singer Corman Neeson successfully evaded one such bovine.
“The Other Side” continues things agreeably with with a chorus with a catchiness typical of this album, then we have the trippy, chunky seventies groove of “Aristocrat” which could easily have come off Aerosmith’s Toys In The Attic.
Our first real goosebumps are evoked with “Cigarettes & Regret”, in which Cormac laments: “The devil’s spoken/But the words came from my mouth”. It’s a high watermark that The Answer manage to retain for the bloody magnificent “Last Days Of Summer”. a blues stormer that could easily be doubled in length live without getting boring.
“Strange Kinda Nothing” is just the right sort of mid-tempo acoustic love song, “I Am What I Am” is the riffy rocker needed at precisely that stage of proceedings and then we have four final offerings that are anything but filler.
“Gone Too Long”, like everything else on RALH, will demand squatting rights in your head almost immediately, “I’m Cured” would have been a star of previous albums, the title track ices things nicely and “Red” treads the same territory as Rising Sons.
The Answer aren’t as cool as Rising Suns. There’s no sensible reason for that. But in this post-apocalyptic musical epoch, a band like The Answer need not to be slaves to the expectations of others.
What is “The Answer”? There is none. Music like this justifies itself.