After a whirlwind 12 months, it seems Sleaford Mods are everyone’s Marmite band of the moment, the duo certainly managing to generate polarised media coverage in the run up to their show-stealing gig at Glastonbury………Lionel who?
‘Key Markets’ constitutes the third Sleafords’ release since former musician turned solo spoken word performer Jason Williamson joined forces with local DJ Andrew Fearn. What started out as an Otway/Lydon hybrid with a vitriolic council estate twist, has evolved into something the music press are starting to take rather more seriously as the SM star continues to rise, having seemed to find a way to resonate with the working class malaise of modern day austerity Britain. In fact their sound is not dissimilar to the early Hip-Hop if you think about it, combining the language of the street in a snappy spoken word delivery, over a looped backing track.
Anyway, album number 3 released on Harbinger Sound is named after a long forgotten 1970s supermarket chain (now part of the Co-Operative chain via Gateway and Somerfield for those of you who are interested in that sort of thing), and sees the pair staked out on the familiar ground of their DIY minimalist sound, there’s no Jazz Odyssey here. Notwithstanding, things do sound a little more polished this time around, instrumental tracks are crisper, several containing simple but very satisfying basslines that Jean-Jacques would be proud of. Not to mention Williamson’s gobshite delivery, still present in abundance but now interspersed with properly sung vocals, harmony even.
Opening track ‘Live Tonight’ begins with the sound of the crowd chanting the band’s name as we’re given a brief flavour of the less than glamourous world inhabited by those stuck on the entry level live music circuit. ‘No Ones Bothered’ is next, where Jason actually starts to sing and combined with its faster tempo, proves to be quite a revelation and will surely have fans skanking up and down the land. Silly Me’ smacks of Blaxploitation funk whereas the razor sharp ‘Cunt Make It Up’ is even more minimal, perhaps deliberately so as Williamson takes a swipe at some of the more serious musicians who have crossed his path, particularly referencing their questionable dress sense.
Like the dissonant title track ‘Key Markets’, the toe curling ‘Tarantula Deadly Cargo’ is also inspired by the 1970s, this time from a cult horror film. ‘Face to Faces’ gets more overtly political with Clegg and Boris on the receiving end of Mods’ ire as London commuters are perhaps given a tip on how to make their journey into the capital more interesting… “Boris on a bike? Quick, knock the c*nt over!” Mr Miliband also cops some well-deserved flak during ‘In Quiet Streets’ as do the chattering classes in ‘Rupert Trousers’.
Indeed there is something for everyone here and when you scratch beneath the surface of the blunderbuss you will find there is perhaps more to the Sleaford Mods than first meets the eye.
Words - Mike Price
Released Friday, July 24th