Five months ago the Answering Machine were a trio and their drum machine. Now, after dates supporting Dirty Pretty Things and the Rumble Strips, they have gained a drummer.
Their drum machine Mustafa Beat may have met its demise, but actually the addition of a live drummer has helped them grow into their new role as an indie pop band to be taken seriously rather than the ramshackle Manchester university outfit they began as two years ago.
The Answering Machine have oodles of charm. Catchy life-affirming and wide-eyed indie pop songs fuelled by Strokes-esque riffs and 1980s pop melodies are infectious. And there’s a youthful urgency to their songs. In “Silent Hotels”, shouty vocals chime in unison, while in “Oh Christina!”, after swapping guitars, mop-topped singer-guitarist Martin Colclough and guitarist Patrick Fogarty (dressed in almost matching indie retro outfits of shirt, black skinny jeans and white plimsolls) sing into the same mic like a shambolic brotherly duo. The band’s debt to the Strokes’ fuzzy guitars is most obvious in crowd favourite “Oklahoma”, and it’s here and in their latest November single – the joyously skipping “Lightbulbs” – that they show their best melodies and capture their audience. Sweetness is added by coolly detached bassist Gemma Evans’ gentle backing vocals and xylophone tinkling from drummer Ben Perry, particularly in the more complexly arranged “Emergency”.
In some songs the guitars carry more tune than the vocals, but it’s the cute way they end the show, each taking drum sticks and tambourines to tap out an intricate marching rhythm, that leaves them etched on our minds.