ALBUM REVIEW: New Model Army – Unbroken | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Released: 26.01.24






I have spent a week with the latest New Model Army album, Unbroken, which makes me think of the hymn from 1907 popularized by the Carter Family. And there is something hymnal about this album, which often features harmonies and other voices.

Justin Sullivan (principal songwriter and singer) is exploring vocal and lyrical loops, drawing, in songs like Reload on the infernal madness of being confined to the island of England. Expanding this idea, he also explores the claustrophobia of conquering, as in the song Legend which seems to quiver with anti-colonial rage. Occasionally, the percussion and the loud instrumentals overpower the lyrics. But moments of eloquence, power and political anger make up for it: Sullivan is incapable of writing a line without the charge of feeling.

As a listener I find I am just not as interested in the instrumental experiments of the songs, as I am in hearing every cadence of what is being sung to me. Idumea is my favourite song. It seems to be about a journey in an expansive territory without borders, with the powerful element of a choir. It’s uplifting, dark, agile, forward, polyphonic, visionary, a world where the ‘birds’ (like me) are found watching its group of wanderers silently from the trees.

In Unbroken the band turns from justified anger to despair to these wide horizons of hope.


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