Picks and Pans Review: The Love of Hopeless Causes

updated 08/16/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/16/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

New Model Army

Sometimes a group delivers an album that raises its game just one notch, but it turns out to be the final notch they needed to fully click. So it is with this veteran English power trio on its sixth studio album.

Augmented by keyboards but fiercely guitar-driven, NMA can be both riveting ("Here Comes the War") and wistful, though even a lovely song like "These Words" makes your nostrils faintly twitch as if smoke were wafting through from some emotional battlefield.

Justin Sullivan has a hard, hurt, working-class English voice that can stir your soul one moment and tear your head off the next. His thick, dirty, rhythmic guitar chords build like onrushing armored vehicles from which drummer Robert Heaton fires his high rifle-shot beats, while bassist Nelson advances alongside, reliable as a buddy in a firefight. Vividly recorded, Love is well-paced, crisp, darkly melodic and difficult to abandon, start to finish. (Epic)

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