Wednesday, January 11, 2017

New Model Army, Winter - Review

I finally acquired (via iTunes download) the latest album from my heroes, and I am awed by its greatness. NMA's previous record was just OK, in my view--a mostly unsuccessful divergence from their tried and true sound. I know many want bands to evolve over the years and across the albums, transforming into something new whenever possible. I've never subscribed to this notion--not as a principle for its own sake, anyway. I like evolution, but I don't look for it to be writ large. More important to me is quality. And this collection is excellent. 

Justin Sullivan's voice ages well--and he sounds rather old here now, at times. Yet he's still able to surge up and let go a primal scream when needed. The lyrics--always NMA's strength, but also on (very) rare occasions a fatal flaw--are as strong as ever. And the guitars, bass, and drums carry all the force they've ever had. I suppose this album is more spare than any they've ever done, but I wouldn't call it minimal in its arrangements. It's not melodically remarkable or catchy, but that's not necessary. 

Anyway, Winter is a welcome return to form, which I would highly recommend for your listening pleasure. There are too many good songs to single out one or two. The first listen impressed me, but it was the second that drove home the record's greatness for me. The third was thrilling. A fourth is underway now. 

For longtime fans of the band, this is highly recommended. For newcomers, I'm not sure where it's best to start. My favorite NMA album remains Thunder and Consolation. At this rate, Winter may well land second or third on the list, in the end. 

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I just realized this is my first blog post in a year and a half. Hello again, Internet. In my last post, I announced the arrival of my own band, Travels by Night. That was a bit premature, but we're rolling out songs now, working toward an album and an e.p. later this year. In case you're the least bit curious, we're here on Bandcamp. For NMA fans, the songs perhaps closest to your neighborhood would be Wicked Old World and Last Call. Drop a line or post a comment, and let me know what you think. More soon...er or later. -eb

UPDATE: I went back to Between Dog & Wolf. It's good--better than I remembered. It feels a touch over-produced, with an emphasis on percussion that's usually quite good but sometimes a bit much. Perhaps the album is a little weak on melody, at times. But overall it's quite good, and somehow it works better for me after hearing Winter. I mean to cast no aspersions on the band or Justin Sullivan. They are great. Visionary. Probably my favorite band ever. 

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