Tumbling out of the wreckage of the dying punk movement, New Model Army were always flag bearers for a darker and more thoughtful alternative, but an alternative where a snarling dissatisfaction and restlessness was never far from the surface. Always at odds with the record industry, even their breakthrough hits such as Vagabonds, 51st State and the majestic Green and Grey barely disguised their mistrust of the way the world worked and their search for some honest answers. From then on in their path has been their own, eschewing the career that required singles on demand and corporate justification and choosing to remain a cult band with a smaller yet fiercely loyal following.
An ever shifting line up has always kept the sound in a state of evolution but has also meant that the consistency hasn’t always been a strong point. For every Ghost of Cain and Thunder and Consolation there has been a Carnival and Today is a Good Day. So what would they return with in the wake of the recent storms they have weathered; yet another change in the line up, theft of equipment and other personal tragedies. In typical fashion the band seems to have come back firing on all cylinders and hungrier than ever.
Somehow managing to create a sound that is at once vast yet empty like the windswept hills that they so often sing about, Between Dog and Wolf is a desolate and visceral place littered with heart wrenching statements and an all encompassing loneliness. They also speak in a universal language with the images drawn from all over the planet yet used as messages and metaphors that require no allegiance to any culture or creed.
Whilst the album lacks the immediacy of their late eighties heyday, it also represents the more mature and shifting nature of the current band, no longer a call to arms but more a call to understanding. But the lack of immediacy of the songs is more than made up for by how sonically textured the album sounds, atmosphere, clever production and more than ever raw, passionate emotion. I’ll take that any day over a ephemeral chart position. The title is taken from an expression that means between day and night, the time of transformation and change and that quite adequately sums up where the band might see themselves, on the cusp of a new direction for their music, this may be the template for a whole new model for this particular army.