New Model Army – ‘Unbroken’

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Alt-Rock earMusic Release Date – January 26th 2024

My exposure to the New Model Army is limited and I was always kind of put off by their overtly political stance, so this is a new thing for me. The band have been in existence for forty years now and during that time the only real constant has been singer/guitarist Justin Sullivan who proves what a fine songwriter he is plus his vocal delivery and melodies are quite superb reminding me of a young Tom Robinson and a little bit of Ian McNabb.

After some guitar lines both electric acoustic the band settle into a punchy Celtic alt-rock groove on opener ‘First Summer After’ before ‘Language’ has both a 90’s Brit pop and funk feel. Things get proper spikey on ‘Reload’ with Ceri Monger’s bass driving it along, Monger’s bass is front and centre on the largely acoustic ‘I Did Nothing Wrong’ but just wait for the chorus to come crashing in, you’ll be punching the air to its call to arms. Oh, and just rejoice in the squally guitar solo, wasn’t expecting that! ‘Cold Wind’ brings a darker melancholy over the acoustics and subtle synths before the new wave punk of ‘Coming Or Going’ takes bites out of you.

Tribal rhythms and those synths give us ‘If I Am Still Me’ which has an almost Adam and the Ants feel – but this ain’t no happy-clappy pop ditty, it’s another dark introspective journey through someone’s mind. ‘Legend’ starts with sirens wailing and a jagged angular guitar line as Michael Dean rattles out another rhythm on his tom-toms and Monger brings a further melodic bass line from the early 80s before the power comes in on the chorus. Here we go with some edgy punky guitar on the start of ‘Do You Want To Go There’ and again they’re off to the races on the chorus before they settle back on Monger’s steady bass line. ‘Idumea’ is stark and bare, with Sullivan and his acoustic gradually joined by a piano before another Celtic rhythm falls in behind him and his backing singers. Monger’s huge bass kicks off and leads the final cut ‘Deserters’ giving it real oomph! And a fine way to end.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this, but I was pleasantly surprised. It flows righteously through all sorts of folk, new wave, punk and alternative waves. At times it bites, and it cuts other times it makes you think deeply then you want to mount a rebellion. Music should make you feel, and this certainly does that.

Tracklist –

1 – First Summer After

2 – Language

3 – Reload

4 – I Did Nothing Wrong

5 – Cold Wind

6 – Coming Or Going

7 – If I Am Still Me

8 – Legend

9 – Do You Really Want Me To Go There

10 – Idumea

11 – Deserters

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