Freddie & The Scenarios – Answer Machine


After conquering the world with indie rockers The Vaccines, lead guitarist and backing vocalist Freddie Cowan steps to the fore with his latest project, Freddie & The Scenarios. Teaming up with some familiar musicians, including former Vaccines’ drummer Pete Robinson, alongside a crew of players Freddie met whilst living in Mexico, the resulting album, Answer Machine, is at once strange yet intimate, and has a timeless quality that will still sound fresh many years hence.

Answer Machine was born from two distinct periods. Firstly, a spell when Freddie lived in Mexico, a time spent absorbing the local culture and recruiting musicians, the second was the whole lockdown experience. Two very different periods that were marked by freedom and confinement, and that dichotomy seeps through almost every note of this record. That disjunction is best exemplified by the opening (and title) track ‘Answer Machine’, a rather claustrophobic, discombobulating introduction (something I’m sure we all felt during lockdown) while the following ‘Ibiza Unicorn’ is a light and airy, almost dreamlike cut, that’s replete with bright brass and a breezy beat that carries Freddie’s guitar on a whimsical wind. However, the lyricism is dark and tethers the music to the ground, and that’s symbolic of Answer Machine, it’s an album that constantly holds a mirror to itself, contrasting light and shade, and fracturing light and distorted images in all directions.

All the tracks comprising Answer Machine were written by Freddie Cowan, and there’s something about his song writing that brings to mind Pet Sounds-era Brian Wilson. There’s a feeling of someone not quite at home, a dark undercurrent to tracks such as ‘Begin Again’, a song that shines with psychedelic colours which slowly bleed into each other. As with most of this album, ‘Begin Again’ is a carnival for the ears, and it’s safe to say Answer Machine sounds like no one but Freddie Cowan. While Freddie certainly has a signature sound (primarily attained through his bright guitar tone), he hasn’t painted himself into a corner and Answer Machine draws its sound from a wide palette. From the hyperactive ‘Sensei’ (featuring legendary guitarist Tomoyasu Hotei) to the whimsical ‘Above All’ via the exuberant ‘Sonic Boom’, this record is a musical journey that takes the listener on a journey that’s sometimes surreal (‘Tipping Point’), but always entertaining.

The Scenarios feature an impressive 13 members (though not all performing at the same time), and while this could have resulted in a cluttered recording, Answer Machine benefits from a razor sharp precision and I, for one, can’t wait for their next move.

  • Answer Machine is released via Bandcamp on 9th March 2023, and via Ivy Records on 23rd March 2023.

Track List:

  1. Answer Machine
  2. Ibiza Unicorn
  3. Self Pity City
  4. Begin Again
  5. Sensei
  6. Above All
  7. Climbing
  8. John Wayne
  9. Love Will Set You Free
  10. Sonic Bloom
  11. Tipping Point
  12. Message Machine
  13. Only Human *

* Bandcamp exclusive bonus track