"Ploughing a uniquely distinctive furrow for over 40 years": New Model Army's Unbroken is timeless, ireful and poetic

Unbroken is album number 16 from enduring British punk/folk/rock mainstays New Model Army

New Model Army: Unbroken cover art
(Image: © Absolute)

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

Is there any other British 80s rock band as dependable as New Model Army? Formed in 1980 by vocalist/guitarist/songwriter and sole continuous member Justin Sullivan, they’ve been ploughing their own uniquely distinctive furrow of punk/folk/rock for over 40 years – far outliving the short-lived 80s genres into which they were often inappropriately categorised. 

Album opener, the lead-off single First Summer After, is classic New Model Army: a mesmerising bass riff and powerful tribal drumming buttressing intricate and delicate guitar melodies, with Sullivan’s ireful yet poetic lyrics telling a story with the timeless vernacular of a homily or fable but without the dogmatic preaching of their 80s punk counterparts.

Their significant diversity (Unbroken is delayed by last year’s Sinfonia – stunning classical arrangements of back catalogue tracks performed live) can be heard in the the acoustic lament of Cold Wind, the heavy rock of Coming Or Going, the synth-laden If I Am Still Me – which harks back to 1984's debut album Vengeance – and the poignant choral Idumea. All help explain the band’s longevity. 

Unbroken: New Model Army in one word.

Alex Burrows

A regular contributor to Louder/Classic Rock and The Quietus, Burrows began his career in 1979 with a joke published in Whizzer & Chips. In the early 1990s he self-published a punk/comics zine, then later worked for Cycling Plus, Redline, MXUK, MP3, Computer Music, Metal Hammer and Classic Rock magazines. He co-wrote Anarchy In the UK: The Stories Behind the Anthems of Punk with the late, great Steven Wells and adapted gothic era literature into graphic novels. He also had a joke published in Viz. He currently works in creative solutions, lives in rural Oxfordshire and plays the drums badly.