New Model Army
When the Bradford, England band New Model Army was denied visas to tour America recently, it felt like déjà vu all over again. During the politically outspoken band’s 1980s heyday, they were regularly denied entry to the U.S. by the Reagan Administration. The reason oft-cited back then: “lack of artistic merit.” Which begs the question: does that mean we can deport all those American Idol winners now? From the first notes of their tenth studio album, it’s clear that NMA leader Justin Sullivan (or Slade the Leveller if you prefer) and his band have more “artistic merit” than Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood combined. And 27 years into their career, the band has lost none of the passion they’ve consistently brought to their heady mix of punk and folk.
Which isn’t to say that things haven’t changed a bit with the latest model of the New Model Army. Sullivan’s poetic lyrics and fervent delivery are still mainstays, sure, but it’s the rhythm section of drummer Michael Dean and bassist Nelson that now anchors the band’s authoritative rumble.
Opener “Wired” may sound the most like old school NMA with its 4/4 beat, shout-along reverbed chorus, and simple chord progression. More ambitious though are the eerie, dramatic “One of the Chosen” and the faux strings-laden title track.
But the entire record is consistently interesting with legendary producer Chris Kimsey (Rolling Stones, Killing Joke) manning the soundboard.
The seething, paranoid “No Mirror, No Shadow” has perhaps the album’s catchiest chorus. “It seems so simple but they just don’t get it / I meant what I said at the time that I said it / Nothing is ever meant to last,” Sullivan sings.
Fortunately New Model Army was built to last and we need smart, angry guys like Sullivan even more today than we did back in the ’80s. As he puts it on “Dawn”: “My body must be slowing down now / But my heart is at the speed of flying.”
New Model Army: www.newmodelarmy.org