The Style Council were one of the biggest bands of the 1980s (particularly in Europe and Japan), but over the course of the decade, Paul Weller's outfit was experiencing declining sales and a critical backlash from rock critics who felt that the group was becoming bloated and self-important. For whatever reason, Weller and company decided to combat their flagging fortunes by cutting an album for the then-underground club scene. (Weller, like many others, now likens the dance culture of the early '90s to the punk movement that originally motivated him to form the Jam.) So, the Style Council recorded Modernism: A New Decade, turned it in to their label, watched as Polydor refused to release it, and then disbanded. In the new millennium Polydor has seen fit to finally release the album and it's easy to understand the label's initial negative reaction; the Style Council were famous for being musically eclectic, but they almost always retained a strong personal identity no matter what kind of musical genre they were exploring. But the dance music they created for this album revels in the fact that it's rather faceless and more of a communal experience rather than a personal one. Modernism: A New Decade is not a bad album, just a rather pointless one and it's dated much worse than most of the band's work from the 1980s. Thankfully, there are a few highlights on the album: the gospel-tinged "Promised Land" became the band's final single, "Sure Is Sure" went on to become a very big bootleg dance hit throughout Europe, and (best of all) the instrumental "That Spiritual Feeling" remains one of the key cuts of the then-new acid jazz scene. Modernism: A New Decade has also been released in its entirety on the Style Council's box set, but it should mainly be of interest to Paul Weller fanatics and those drug-addled few who are nostalgic for the rave scene of the early '90s.
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AllMusic Review by Nick Dedina