NEWS: MODERN ENGLISH album 1234 out Feb 23rd

NEWS: MODERN ENGLISH album 1234 out Feb 23rd

Modern English are excited to announce the FridayFebruary 23 release of 1 2 3 4,  the iconic British new wave/post-punk band’s first album of new material in eight years. Produced by Mario J. McNulty (David Bowie, Lou Reed, Nine Inch Nails), mixed by Cenzo Townsend and mastered at Abbey Road1 2 3 4 retains the intrinsic spirit of these early post-punk days, and is also a sterling sonic example of what Modern English have always done best.

The album encompasses seething songs with a punk bite (“Long in The Tooth,” “Plastic”), keyboard-forward melodic rockers (“Not Fake,” “Crazy Lovers”) and simmering, darkwave-meets-post-punk gems (“Exploding,” “Out to Lunch”). With a touch of subtle themes lifted from After the Snow (1982) and Ricochet Days (1984) that include the environment, aging, failed relationships, love and more, 1 2 3 4 finds the legendary band delving into nostalgia but, as always, exploring new creative territory.

With singles “Long in the Tooth” and “Crazy Lovers” released in advance of the announcement, on Jan 15th the band offers “Not My Leader,” a scathing observation on politics in both the U.S. and the UK and how they aren’t dissimilar. “I remember first coming to America in the early ’80s,” frontman Robbie Grey recalls. “We had Margaret Thatcher and you had Ronald Reagan — and then fast forward to today and Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. It’s the same thing forty years later, really. It’s the same old shit.” Stream “Not My Leader” on YouTube HERE and on all platforms HERE. 

 Founding members Robbie Grey (vocals/guitar) and Mick Conroy (bass) started coming up with the music for 1 2 3 4 during the spring 2020 COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, swapping ideas back and forth remotely. Conroy set up a temporary home studio in Suffolk, England, with gear arranged in a tiny kitchen area (“Once I’d set up, that meant you couldn’t open the fridge door,” he says) and found himself inspired by the first Siouxsie and the Banshees album and the David Bowie records featuring Mick Ronson.

After having amassed a batch of fresh songs, restrictions loosened enough so Modern English could gather together and go over this new music. The band deliberately went for a “raw-sounding affair” that was “more energetic,” Conroy says, and recorded the album in just a few takes with minimal overdubs in a residential studio in upstate New York. “We wanted some edge to it,” Grey says. “Live drums and getting the feel of moving from verse to chorus with everyone playing. It sounds like a live album.”

Grey also says his lyrics on 1 2 3 4 are thematically in line with other Modern English albums. “For me, as a lyricist, it’s always about personal journeys, or the journey of the band, or just getting pissed off with governments and politicians,” he says. As an example, he cites the pointed “Not My Leader,” inspired by the fact that “it seemed that everybody in charge of the world was completely incompetent,” as he puts it. Other favorites include “Not Fake” (“I like quoting all the things I don’t like,” he says with a laugh) and “Long In the Tooth,” a song about getting older. “It says what it needs to and it gets its message across. For a lyricist, that’s a very important thing.” 

The band’s keen sense of dynamics is also evident throughout 1 2 3 4. The album-closing “Voices” is particularly subdued, bolstered by echoing, Doppler-like sound effects and Grey’s somber vocals; the effect falls somewhere between spacey psychedelic rock and tranquil shoegaze. “With Modern English, we start off with an idea and then we go off on slight tangents,” says Conroy. “But there’s always one or two songs that don’t sound anything like punk rock. They sound like Modern English.” 

Modern English co-produced their sophomore effort, 1982’s After the Snow, with Hugh Jones (The Sound, Echo & The Bunnymen), pairing trademark moodiness with spiky guitars and shimmering keyboards. In addition to the UK top 40 hit “Life in the Gladhouse,” the LP became known for “I Melt With You,” which became a top 10 hit at U.S. rock radio and crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart.

A paragon of consistency, Modern English have become widely respected over the years as innovators, thanks to younger generations discovering their catalog and new artists citing the band as an influence. This increased popularity has translated to sold-out tours performing their early albums and a main stage appearance at the 2023 Cruel World Festival in front of more than 25,000 people.

It’s been a big journey for everybody, and our early days are really important to us,” Grey summarizes. “We haven’t changed that much. We’re still the same people inside. And the original members are the sound of the band — Stephen [Walker] on the keyboards, making lots of noises with all his analog synths, and then the sounds made by guitarist Gary [McDowell] or bassist Mick [Conroy]. If you take some of those components away, you won’t have the Modern English sound.”

Modern English will be making the following appearances in 2024. Dates below with more to be added soon.


09 — Mexico City, MX — Foro Puebla *

12 — Tucson, AZ — Rialto Theatre *

13 — Los Angeles, CA — Teragram Ballroom *


11 — Dortmund, DE — Musiktheater Piano *

12 — Frankfurt, DE — Batschkapp *

13 — Berlin, DE — Huxleys *

14 — Hamburg, DE — Knust *

* — supporting The Buzzcocks

A UK show TBA

1 2 3 4 track listing:

Long In The Tooth

Not My Leader

Not Fake



Crazy Lovers

I Know Your Soul


Out To Lunch


Modern English online: 

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Matt Mead

Matt Mead

Freelance writer who likes anything with heart and soul