Sacrificing the experimental post-punk doodling that worked so well within defined songs on the first LP Vengeance strangely enough works here for this incredible band that won't hear any malarkey about how bad second LPs are supposed to be. A more direct approach works wonders, rendering every song a possible single, every one a flaming, emotion-wracked foray into human thoughts, customs, and politics. And Slade the Leveler's got some unparalleled British lyrics for this kind of statement-oriented music and tremendous songwriting on side one. "There is no rest for the wicked ones," he sings, like a saddened preacher, a sentiment you see again on the terrific "Drag It Down," like a guy standing at the edge of a pointless fray wondering why human beings are always so stupid. But he's also capable of great empathy for the times in England as they are in the 2010s, when so many young people are struggling economically, as "Young, Gifted and Skint" makes clear. Don't miss "Grandmother's Footsteps" and "Ambition," too; you won't hear busier bass playing on a hotfoot U.K. post-punk rock record this year. The evidence here is that New Model Army are getting even better when you might have expected the usual decline, suggesting that Slade is an artist with great ideas you can't exhaust, and all three members have the talent to make it something other than regurgitation.
AllMusic Review by Jack Rabid