The Answer: New Horizon

Northern Irish hard-rock outfit hits all the familiar notes

The Answer

New Horizon

Label: Napalm
US Release Date: 2013-10-08
UK Release Date: 2013-09-30

Some people spend too much time musing about the past. Northern Ireland quartet The Answer has taken up permanent residence there, playing a brand of Guns ‘n’ Roses-esque hard rock that would fit right in on a 1989 radio playlist. From the bouncy-but-rough guitars to singer Cormac Neeson’s raspy vocals, The Answer has all the moves down pat, sonically at least. They’re a great nostalgia act, and they’ve been churning out moderately-successful albums since 2006’s Rise, and who knows, maybe 14-year-olds who feel as if they missed out on their Dads’ music will like it. But is there anything fresh on offer?

The short answer: Not really. The slightly longer answer: not really, but so what? Given that so much of rock and roll exists as a result of recombination and reinterpretation—white people stealing from black sources, Brit musicians stealing from American ones, everybody copying riffs and samples and rhythms and beats—does this lack of originality matter? Which brings us back to: not really. As long as the tunes are cooking and the riffs get the job done, The Answer will remain a serviceable rock band, if not an outstanding one.

“Serviceable” describes this album perfectly. From the opening, feedback-laden chords of lead track “New Horizon” through the final strains of closer “Scream a Louder Love”, The Answer is a band that makes few wrong moves: the riffs are thunderous, the solos explosive, the rhythms thudding. And okay, the lyrics tend to be vacuous and dumb – “I’m a dead man walking / But I’ll walk for miles” – but hey, that’s just another convention of plenty of hard rock bands that have gone before.

Despite this predictability, or maybe because of it, “New Horizon” ain’t a bad track, and it’s a pretty serviceable (that word again) way to open the album. There are enough vocal surprises to keep your ear happy, and when the guitar rips out a lead, well, things feel pretty good, in a loose, I’ve-heard-this-a-thousand-times-before-but-I-like-it-anyway kind of way.

One the heels of this comes “Leave With Nothin’”, by far the best song on the record, which makes good use of its snaky, wah-wah-inflected riff and a bass line that’s pumped up to 11. For a few minutes there, it almost seems as if the band is going to transcend their roots and turn into something more than a very good mimic of older bands.

Alas, that never happens. After the promising one-two opening salvo, mediocrity sets in, with the requisite “sensitive song” in the form of “Spectacular”, a tune that seems to say, essentially, that we’re all wicked awesome. It’s a nice thought but, you know, doesn’t really go anywhere. (The possibility that the band was maybe aiming for a David Bowie “Heroes” vibe elevates the lameness to near-tragedy.) Connoisseurs of ridiculous lyrics will want to add “I was once told I would be what I’d become” to their collection of all-time classics.

The rest of the album meanders along in generic hard-rock territory. “Somebody Else” is pleasantly storming, and “Concrete” gets a nice little off-kilter riff going for a few minutes, but for every mildly engaging tune there’s something lame like the watery power ballad “Call Yourself a Friend”, or “Baby Kill Me”, which aims for a lighthearted take on relationship issues but just ends up sounding stupid. But hey, that riff is—how should I describe it?—serviceable.

Ultimately, The Answer is just another band. There’s no shame in that; we need average bands in order to throw the really great ones into focus. It’s tough to recommend this album, though, when there are so many more compelling alternatives out there.


To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.