Not my words. Those of Cormac Neeson.

“….. after seven years away we all came back fired up and the end result is an album we’ve been waiting to make our whole lives…full of good time rock n roll and positive energy created by four brothers who quite frankly just really missed each other.”

End of review?  It might as well be, because Cormac has just nailed it.

Here’s the bit where I am supposed to tell you the boring stuff, like Cormac fronts The Answer and how “Sundowners” is their first album since 2016’s “Solas”. But I’d rather not.

I’d rather talk about how in 2006 a band released a record called “Rise”, and how a year or two later MV saw what we genuinely believed to be the future of rock n roll. How we saw AC/DC in 2009 at the O2 and our boys opened. And how “Sundowners” is the best record The Answer have put out since those days.

Cards on the table here. I’ll fess up. The opening title track. It took a few listens to hit home. It comes out of the swamps by way of prog rock and all kinds of odd stuff. That’s cool, though, so did “Solas” and that ended up being ace too. It starts with a bass solo from Mickey Waters. It’s like one of those bands that play at Desertfest. And then…..

Well then…..

At precisely two minutes 18 seconds they find a groove. The type of groove they could always find.The sort of thing that screamed classic, despite the fact no one could ever tell you a band they sounded exactly like.

And, yes, the title cut is a slow burner. The rest of it is like a sherbet fizz. It’s a rush.

“Blood Brother” is built around a Paul Mahon riff. Choppy, yet funky, its as ready for the disco as The Answer have ever been, there’s a strut – and to back up what Cormac said, perhaps – an enjoyment. It flows through the speakers.

If you had to play one of these to a new person to explain the magic of the band, then “California Rust” might do the job. There’s everything here, from a Northern Irish blues sound to the thumping of James Heatley’s drums, but more than anything, there Neeson’s roar. The urgency with which he delivers these words is something to behold.

Listening to the record as I have over the last fortnight or so, a thought struck me. Indeed, it thumps you between the eyes on “I Want You To Love Me”, and its this. I used to love The Temperance Movement, and I never noticed until now that they were basically an Answer Tribute Act.

“Oh Cherry” has a sort of surf rock flavour and they sound re-invigorated here. Maybe its working with Dan Weller (modern producer to everyone) but there’s a new infusion of something here, and if there’d always been something of the folk, even gospel sound in their work, then the record’s brilliant centrepiece “No Salvation” underlines it for 2023.

There’s a soul to “Cold Heart”, there’s something primal, almost Black Keys-ish about “Come Together”, the shortest cut in the collection at just over two and a half minutes, and if people still bought singles and the top 40 mattered, then the superb, near CCR polish of “Livin’ In The Line” would be a Gold Disc (these days it’ll make a Spotify playlist of Best New Rock….)

The last two almost act in a way to tie up the loose ends. “Get Back On It” comes in with the abandon of a band who is, well, back on it. Back on top. Its as groovy as they’ve ever been, and the last one is different again. Acoustic, blowing in on a warm summer breeze and with keys work that elevates it to something special, “Always Alright” starts off as something that could have been on Neeson’s largely acoustic record from a few years back, but it explodes into a wall of sound to remind us that it’s the Answer in full effect.

And that’s “Sundowners”. Full throttle The Answer, full fat, nothing scaled back. This is a sensational comeback. It’s more than that. The Answer have always been a band who seemed like they were searching for something. Here, they might just have found it.

Rating 9/10

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