Album Review: The Answering Machine – Lifeline

By on Monday, 21st February 2011 at 12:00 pm

The Answering Machine released their debut album, ‘Another City, Another Sorry’ in 2009. Now in 2011, the quartet return with their second album, ‘Lifeline’, on Heist or Hit Records, just like its predecessor. Make no mistake, this is one romantic record. This of course makes me wonder if the band had fought to get this out on Valentine’s Day instead of today. But that’s another discussion for another day…

And besides, thinking that this album is nothing but a sappy, lovey dovey affair would not give it the justice it deserves. Hearts, lungs, difficulty breathing, blood, hospital – all of these are examined on ‘Lifeline’. In the track ‘Video 8’, frontman Martin Colclough sings, “there’s a tasteless relief about escape / I know if you can develop if you take the chance to feel nothing.” Them’s philosophical words. Colclough also played producer for the first time for ‘Lifeline’, which allowed the band to return home to Manchester to more comfortable confines and record in a city centre underground studio.

‘My Little Navy’ is a nice intro to this set of 11 songs, the guitars approaching shoegazey territory, having a crashing instrumental bridge, then backing off into something softer. We previously profiled the great singles ‘Lifeline’ (review here) and ‘Animals’ (you can download the song and a Dutch Uncles remix of it from this post from last October here). It’s funny, if you listen to these songs in sequence, it’s almost like they’re twins, with similar sensibilities. Not sure if that was intentional?

‘3 Miles’ includes enjoyable guitar lines matching like the evocative lyrics like two lovers dancing perfectly in sync. This would work well as a single, but maybe it wasn’t chosen as one because it goes beyond the 4-minute mark and therefore would have to be shaved down for radio play. Like ‘Lifeline’, the emotional effect on bones (as in getting an all body shiver) is again explored. The lyrics are poppy yet with some bite too: “the veins, the blood, the cracks in the street /my heart breaks a little more with every beat / could you ever be mine?” More frenetic are ‘Romantic and Square’ and ‘Hospital Lung’ with thoughtful synths, banging guitars and quickfire lyrics; these may remind you a bit of Two Door Cinema Club perhaps?

Sadness pervades ‘Rules’, Colclough ‘s voice giving a regretful examination of a relationship gone wrong, and the instrumentation is sympathetic to these proceedings. ‘The End’, fittingly the album’s last track, features bassist Gemma Evans on lead vocals, and as should be expected on a ‘romantic’ record, this is about the end of a relationship. Or is it? She sounds adamant about making this relationship, almost an obsession (“I will hunt you down / I will chase you ’til the end”). Not really how I expected this album to conclude, it’s a bit unsettling. The overall effect of ‘Lifeline’ is a good one; however, a lot of the songs sound similar, like they followed the same recipe for each, and they lack the energy that could have been. From ‘Another City, Another Sorry’, it’s like they repainted the walls, putting taupe over red.


‘Lifeline’, the new album from the Answering Machine, is available now from Heist or Hit Records.

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