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From Here by New Model Army
Released in 2019, From Here is the 15th studio album from New Model Army, a post-punk band well known in their native England but less familiar here. Over their now 40-year history, NMA has gained a devoted following among those seeking music with a punk edge within a wide range of musical influences and more than the average thoughtfulness to their often political lyrics.
The opening track "Passing Through" starts with bold vocals over the momentum of percussion before taking a turn mid-song to a haunting instrumental. "Never Arriving" showcases a prominent bass line (long a feature of NMA's music, despite several lineup changes over the years) alongside lyrics telling the story of the end of a long relationship. "The Weather" and "End of Days" set social criticism against driving music with rich instrumentation, while "Great Disguise" takes a turn toward the personal and "Conversation" imagines a lonely narrator looking for companionship. "Where I Am" is a guitar-based anthem of self-acceptance, and "Hard Way" uses a dark sound to explore themes of forgiveness and healing. "Watch and Learn" comes back to the band's punk roots with simpler chords and a warning about what we're teaching the next generation, while "Maps" is a more imaginative song featuring string sounds and seafaring imagery. "Setting Sun" is quieter but still fast-moving, with introspective lyrics. Closing out the album, the title track "From Here" is an eight-minute meditation on hubris accompanied by that characteristic haunting and driving sound.
With compelling lyrics and energetic music, albeit with a more mellow tone than NMA's earlier fare, From Here makes a fine introduction to a band you might have missed. - Michelle (Sunset)
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