Album Review: The Answer – “Solas”
With their last album, Raise A Little Hell, it seemed like The Answer were starting to get a little stale. Yes, when they wanted to they could still write a fine rock song, but even the kindest critics could tell they were just treading water. So, the news that they had took a musical left turn with Solas was extremely welcome. However, we’ve heard that from hundreds of bands in the past, right? The question is, have The Answer injected their musical stew with a little adrenaline and come out the other side shiny and new?
Well, yes, thank God. With album number six we get big pop rock anthems (Untrue Colours, Battle Cry) but also have a healthy dose of overblown pomp (Beautiful World, Real Life Dreamers).
The title track broods out of your speakers in a very Zeppelin-y When The Levee Breaks kind of way, so not a million miles away from their usual m.o., but – and it’s a big but – The Answer sound revitalised. Cormac Neeson’s vocal is both uplifting and intimidating in equal measure and the band are on fire. The new ingredients are there as promised; the aforementioned Beautiful World dabbles in eastern melodies, and Battle Cry sprinkles itself in Celtic flavour. Then we have the meditative acoustic sound of Thief Of Light, a song that could easily have been written by a completely different band, and is all the more arresting for it.
When Being Begotten kicks in with a clichéd boogie blues riff it’s quite jarring after what’s come before, yet it’s soon apparent that it’s not going where you expect. Keeping the meditative feel of Thief Of Light, it relies on atmospherics rather than volume for it’s power, and Neeson stays restrained throughout. Then the band get countrified on Demon Driven Man, and almost morph into Starship for Real Life Dreamers.
Sadly, the album kind of peters out with Tunnel, a song that sounds like a parody of a heartfelt rock ballad. Something best left to Tenacious D. A damp squib of an ending to an otherwise fine album then.
Adding new musical ingredients has forced the band to shake things up and they sound all the better for it, giving us an album that's fresh and unpredictable. With the last album they sounded like they were running out of steam, but on Solas The Answer have definitely found their mojo again.