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  • Writer's pictureGavin Griffiths

NEW MODEL ARMY - UNBROKEN - Review. 'Unbroken' is out January 26th via earMUSIC. GTGC has his say!




It’s 2024; a new year full of exciting new music, new opportunities, new goals, and a new album from NEW MODEL ARMY. Alright to be fair they are more or less the same model army, probably the only thing that ISN’T new here, but we’ll forgive them for their longevity.  The Bradford-based rock veterans have been going strong since the early 1980’s which, is getting scarily further away as time goes by, but Justin Sullivan is ready to lead his army on the front line once more for their 16th studio album; “Unbroken”. Why fix it if it isn’t, y’know? Scheduled for release on January 26th via earMUSIC, let’s prepare for battle as we press play... 





We open up with “First Summer After” and in these negative degree winter conditions it’s a welcomed, warming little track. Combining twangy guitar play with acoustic tones and genuinely hypnotic percussion, it blends a sense of KILLING JOKE inspired rhythmic melody, with the kind of light alternative rock that PLACEBO would produce. Aided by Justin’s smoky vocals it’s a wonderful little opener. A road trip song, full of twists, turns, ups and downs, it makes you ponder life's journey; past, present and future. 


We follow up with first album highlight “Language” and there’s an instant sense of positivity oozing from the instrumentation here. It’s very bass-driven and rich in groove, blending post-punk and Brit-pop elements with an incredibly catchy chorus. The spoken word mid-section and dramatic key-change allows for composition depth and growth, with a strong crescendo, as the track speaks of manifestation. Very much you reap what you sew, with a sense of self-awareness in character and accountability.  


Further highlights here include “Coming Or Going” which houses this deep, surging post-punk tempo, fuelled by a bass-rich core structure and rocking tempo, bringing all of the nostalgia. There’s a sense of swagger and middle-fingers-up attitude to the delivery here and it’s thoroughly enjoyable, no-nonsense rock ‘n’ roll. “I Did Nothing Wrong” tackles the Post Office Scandal for which many hundreds of people wrongly accused of fraud, theft and professional malpractice. It turns out, it was the Post Office software that caused and created the clusterfuck of legal turmoil, and it was a damning indictment for the British justice system. Acoustic led, but the climax here easily sounds like it would fit among the soundtrack of THE CROW aesthetically and that is the utmost compliment.  


A lot of the album fleets back and forth in the same vein; the indie inspired tribal rhythm of “If I Am Still Me” plays well, while “Cold Wind” houses sombre acoustic tones, but there are a couple of moments that underwhelm. “Reload” has this, almost sloppy vocal intro piece, fuelled poorly by what feels like forced angst, sounding almost disingenuous. The riffs are deep, and at best it sounds like, a very rare decent sounding SLEAFORD MODS piece in places. That isn’t saying much. “Idumea” then has this brilliant sense of pub singing. Not quite karaoke, this isn't a derogative, but you know when you go into a localised rural pub or tavern, and the local yokels have this thing going on, where someone whips out an acoustic or, sits at the piano or whatever, and there’s suddenly a folkish singalong? This is that. Look, I’ll settle for the warm pint of ale in a dirty glass, even a packet of ass (In joke) ...the only thing stopping me from continuing my journey is the full moon right now, you get me? I digress. 


All in all, while New Model Army have spent decades creating an impressive back catalogue, they manage to not stagnate with their blending of indie, punk, folk, post-punk and proto-Goth, layering and spreading genre’s well enough to not sound like a one trick pony. Add their love of iconic lyricists and storytellers like BOB DYLAN, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN and TOM WAITS, the band are never shy of creative ideas. “Unbroken” in name, just like they haven’t necessarily broken ay moulds here per se, but there’s plenty of fight left in New Model Army, and they’ve positioned themselves firmly on the front line of 2024, releasing a genuinely enjoyable album. 





UNBROKEN TRACK LISTING


  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 To Go There?

  10. Idumea

  11. Deserters


New Model Army will be touring Unbroken throughout the UK & Europe this year with shows starting on February 27th. The band will also be holding three special Q&A appearances across select UK independent record stores during album release week. Full dates, more information and tickets for all shows can be found at https://www.newmodelarmy.org/


UNBROKEN TOUR 2024 – PART ONE


Feb 27 – Roadmender, Northampton, UK

Feb 28 – Effenaar, Eindhoven, NL

Feb 29 – La Laiterie, Strasbourg, FR

Mar 1 – Transbordeur, Lyon, FR

Mar 2 – Mascotte, Zurich, CH

Mar 4 – Muhle Hunziken, Bern, CH

Mar 5 – Backstage, Munich, DE

Mar 6 – Wuk, Vienna, AT

Mar 7 – A38, Budapest, HG

Mar 8 – Kwadrat, Krakow, PL

Mar 9 – Palladium, Warsaw, PL

Mar 11 – B90, Gdansk, PL

Mar 12 – Tama, Poznan, PL

Mar 13 – Huxleys Neue Welt, Berlin, DE

Mar 15 – Valand, Gothenburg, DK

Mar 16 – Katalin, Upsala, SE

Mar 17 – Slaktkyrkan, Stockholm, SE

Mar 18 – Plan B, Malmo, SE

Mar 20 – Grosse Freiheit, Hamburg, DE

Mar 21 – Fabrik, Coesfeld, DE

Mar 22 – Batschkapp, Frankfurt, de

Mar 23 – Garage, Saarbrucken, DE

Mar 24 – LKA Longhorn, Stuttgart, DE

Mar 26 – Turbinenhalle 2, Oberhausen, DE

Mar 27 – Hedon, Zwolle, NL

Mar 28 – Het Depot, Leuven, NL

Mar 29 – Tivoli, Utrecht, NL

Mar 30 – Trabendo, Paris, FR

Apr 10 – Tavastia, Helsinki, FI

Apr 11 – Lutakko, Jyvaskyla, FI

Apr 18 – Opium, Dublin, IE

Apr 19 – Mandela Hall, Belfast, NI

Apr 20 – The Garage, Glasgow, UK

Apr 21 – Boiler Shop, Newcastle, UK

Apr 23 – Junction, Cambridge, UK

Apr 24 – The 1865, Southampton, UK

Apr 25 – Marble Factory, Bristol, UK

Apr 26 – Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton, UK

Apr 27 – O2 Academy, Leeds, UK

May 11 – Roundhouse, London, UK





Gav TGC

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