Album Review: New Model Army – “From Here”
Following on from two rightfully acclaimed albums, 2013’s Between Dog And Wolf and 2016’s Winter, New Model Army continue to be the antithesis of bands from way back when who think that just phoning in a badly faded xerox of the output from their commercial peak is an acceptable way to move your career forward. And on the evidence of From Here, Justin Sullivan and co still have plenty to say for themselves. Recorded on a remote island off the coast of Norway, this is a claustrophobic and nervy album, but all the more alluring for it.
The hypnotic opener Passing Through sets the tone nicely before the frustrated angst of Never Arriving well and truly kicks things into gear with the band looking back at lost youth and wondering where it’s gone. The Weather and the doomy End Of Days have a similar tightly-wound angst about them with Sullivan’s insistent vocals and the band’s energetic backing working to great effect. The acoustic-led Great Disguise and the desolate drowning man story of Conversation drop things down a notch without losing any of the atmosphere, it’s pretty clear this band aren’t missing a trick here.
From Here is definitely a bit more of a mid-paced beast than Winter was, but that’s definitely not a bad thing as allowing these songs to breathe a bit adds to the atmosphere, allowing Sullivan’s lyrics to properly shine through as evidenced on the lurching Hard Way or the resigned Where I Am. Having said that, Watch And Learn does add a bit of urgency midway through side two, snarling about how easily led humans can be, and is all the better for it. Maps, which looks at colonialism, meanwhile is led by pounding tribal drums and cello and is a real dark epic.
By the time the sinister Setting Sun and the epic title track close this one out, New Model Army have proved that their recent good run of albums has very much continued with this one. A good reminder about everything that makes them such a vital band, From Here definitely comes recommended.
Although it lasts for over an hour, "From Here" crucially doesn't feel that long, and that's always a good sign. Keeping up the form they showed on their last few albums, this is New Model Army doing what they do best, neatly split between nervy angst and righteous fury. Old and new fans alike will find plenty to enjoy here.