New Model Army

Thunder And Consolation

New Model Army - Thunder And Consolation ©1989 EMI/Capitol
1. I Love The World
2. Stupid Questions
3. 225
4. Inheritance
5. Green And Grey
6. Ballad Of Bodman Pill
7. Family
8. Family Life
9. Vagabond
10. 125 MPH
11. Archway Towers
12. The Charge
13. Chinese Whispers
14. Nothing Touches
15. White Coats

Thunder and Consolation is one of the stronger albums I’ve heard of the English folk-punk hybrid New Model Army, which is to say it’s fantastic. The music is clear and open, a pulsating wave of sound and fury, static charged with pastoral idealism and progressive outrage. The music here alternates between simple chord strumming rock-outs and neatly packed folk ballads. New Model Army are, despite their relative lack of fame, the quintessential musical punk band, with both ample musicianship and deeply moving lyrical themes. Between the acoustic rumble and energetic white noise, the music has a soaring emotional quality rarely found in the gray zone of post punk. New Model Army can bash out a shout-along tune with the best of them, but it’s the reflective moments, the lilting singing of Justin Sullivan, and the pensive nostalgic quality, that lends the band its immense beauty.

Thunder and Consolation continues the band’s eighties sound, but brings it to a profoundly higher level, with songs of intimate honesty (“Green and Grey”), inspiring radical environmentalism (“I Love the World”), and works of maddening political intensity (“White Coats”). Sullivan’s performance on the album ranks up there with his best, his low accented singing both an instrument of caustic anger and a voice to lull you to sleep. Thematically, the album is a continuation of older concepts, but stresses the increased estrangement of humankind from nature, both its own and the world’s, with lyrics obsessively focused on the migration from the country to the city, with its industrial jobs and concrete inhumanity. Thunder and Consolation is not only an album, but also a moving political statement of ecological and social importance, the luddite’s middle-finger extended to those who promise the future but bring only misery. Obscure though they may be in the States, New Model Army’s music and their political vision should not go ignored.

Review by James Slone

Review date: 07/2002

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