Bands are like families, bound by something deeper than friendship – and liable to implode just as irrevocably. Yet that familial bond can equally draw you back, and so it is that four-fifths of the original Modern English have recorded their first album together in 30 years.
Take Me To The Trees not only reconnects the band to their roots, in the fervent and fecund world of late 1970s/early 1980s post-punk Britain, but they have co-produced it with Martyn Young of Colourbox and M/A/R/R/S fame, whose last production job was 1986. Moreover, the album’s beautiful cover is by venerated art director Vaughan Oliver, whose very first sleeve design was Modern English’s ‘Gathering Dust’ single in 1980.
The band’s fired-up vitality is palpable in the album’s pulsating opener ‘You’re Corrupt’, laced with Grey’s rant against corporate greed, “and the throwaway nature of modern culture. It’s a time when even the truth is watered down.” ‘Sweet Revenge’ and ‘Flood Of Light’ equally have the “edgy style” that Grey hears on Mesh And Lace, “and lyrically cut up, and strange.” Some words, like ‘Don’t Seem Right’, were written in Suffolk, “so they’re gloomier,” while others were penned in Thailand, like “Moonbeam”, “under starry skies and a full moon.” The album title (a line from the song ‘Trees’) was also inspired by nature, “and to us getting lost along the way.”
The band have also found room for a new, spectral mood in the ballads ‘It Don’t Seem Right’ (“a love song of people forced apart”) and ‘Come Out Of Your Hole’ (which started life as a sexual image “before evolving into something else altogether” says Grey). As the album finally took shape, the band took time away to tour, such as one incredible arena show in the Philippines, “where we were driven around in a cavalcade!” Grey says. “That was amazing.”