Meditations on different forms of highs and addictions
James Cartwright | Albuquerque, NM | 09/27/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Justin Sullivan et al craft another challenging album. Many fans of early NMA may have a difficult time adjusting to the new musical directions NMA is exploring on this album. It took a number of listens before I was sure of my own opinion of this one.
'Wired' takes a typical rock 4/4 beat to serve as a backdrop for a look at love and desire.
'One of the Chosen' is a meditation on the seductive power of fundamentalism and religious conversion, the dangers associated therewith are implied obliquely. The song is musically intense and drives one like conversion syndrome itself.
'High' - the title-track - provides an antidote to the addictions of megalomania, power, nationalism, etc. It has an almost orchestral feel at times with sweeping faux-string parts approximating the feel of looking down from the heights, whether of the hills and/or our higher nature.
It is difficult to tell whether 'No Mirror, No Shadow is a personal bit or a really enjoyable lambaste of the current American administration's refrain of 'I can't recall' every time they are asked a question. "It seems so simple, but they just don't get it/I meant what I said at the time that I said it/Nothing is ever meant to last..." This song certainly has one of the more catchy refrains on this album.
'Dawn' - takes a somwhat more musically minimalist lament as a backdrop for an examination of personal and familial loss.
'All Consuming Fire' - is the most unique song on this album, with a very tongue-in-cheek look at the demise of traditional culture in the swirling flames of modern, global, mercantile, and media controlled psuedo-culture and the terrible irony of the 'Pax Americana'.
And so it goes ... new musical explorations, often more like soundscapes with lyrics, provide a vital backdrop for NMA's brave and clear-sighted viewpoints on life, the universe and everything associated with the highs and addictions of being human, of human being."
High Marks for "HIGH"
Daniel A. Watkins | Dallas, TX United States | 08/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Unlike some other reviewers, I am not a long time fan of NEW MODEL ARMY - I am a recent convert. So unlike the other reviews I can only rate this on it's own merit, not in comparison to their other work which I've never heard.
My short story is this: about a year ago I'd by chance heard frontman JUSTIN SULLIVAN's cd "Navigating By The Stars" and it soon became one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE albums. Simply brilliant. After becoming familiar with his solo work I had to check out his band to see how it stacked up - so I bought "HIGH".
"HIGH" is a really, really great album. There are NO dud tracks on here, no filler. The rhythms are adventurous, at times complex and at times tribal in feel. Very solid work - and the same can be said of the bass which charts out melodic territory of it's own rather than being tied to guitar. Brilliant guitar work, brilliant vocals and wordplay. Very melodic, great progressions and rhythms - thought provoking lyrics offering a variety of uncommon perspectives.
5 stars. This is one of the best releases I've heard from any band in the last 5 years."
NMA rise to the challenge!
Elan Bodwick | las vegas | 02/17/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"To put it simply this new album by NMA is easily their best since Thunder and consolation. Recently the last few albums with the exception being 1990s The love of hopeless causes were left wanting with so-so songwriting and a noticable drop in the creativity and direction. Ofcourse each past album had a couple of great songs but overall NMA were slipping into what every band slips into- the well was running dry and the passion as well. High however is the comeback album of the decade so far. It bristles with energy- interesting arrangements and the best lyrics Justin Sullivan has written in a long time. The prior reviewer did a good job of summing up particular songs and their implied lyrical intentions so ill just add that High is strong throughout. The drumming is superb so who ever took over from sadly missed (RIP) Rob Heaton is doing a fantastic job. The production is also an improvement over recent efforts and once again the guitar attack and acoustic guitar tones are perfectly balanced as only New Model Army seem to do. Sullivan sounds angry but wiser- screaming without sounding overdramatic- whispering and talking in hushed tones of truths and observations of the world. I cant express how fired up he sounds- this being the polar opposite to his recent Solo effort a few years back which is actually one of my favorite albums. (navigating by the Stars)-. After some twenty years of listening to this band i am looking foward to seeing them play live again(they are touring the us this spring with an album that ranks right up with their best."