NBHAP Rating: 4,5/5
[one_half last=”yes”]SLEAFORD MODS
Label: Harbinger Sound
01. Live Tonight
02. No One’s Bothered
03. Bronx in a Six
04. Silly Me
05. Cunt Make It Up
06. Face To Faces
08. In Quiet Streets
09. Tarantula Deadly Cargo
10. Rupert Trousers
11. Giddy on the Ciggies
12. The Blob
ALBUM OF THE WEEK
It can get a little hard to separate between the phenomenon and the band SLEAFORD MODS at this point. With their latest, 2014’s Divide And Exit, the duo started an impressive run, topping various Best Of The Year lists, touring all over Europe and leaving mostly enthusiastic audiences and critics. All this despite the fact that their music is certainly not a favourable easy listening experience. You either hate it or love it but in a weird way, there still seems to be no serious dissent about them right now. But then again, it’s quite easy to explain. SLEAFORD MODS are the perfect projection surface for all of our vague anger, fear and growing disillusion. Now they’re back with Key Markets, the band’s eighth record. And it offers a great chance for Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn.
SLEAFORD MODS do get the kind of recognition now that allows them a certain artistic freedom yet they’re not in the position that they’d have to create something like a breakthrough. Therefore, Key Markets is at the same time ‘just the next Sleaford Mods’ and the album with which they are allowed to re-calibrate themselves a little.
Opening up with ‘Sleaford Mods, Sleaford Mods’-chants in Live Tonight, Key Markets establishes a certain self-ironic vibe at the start – but it’s only a short moment of self-awareness that’s quickly swept aside by the typically looped proto punk sounds and Williamson’s repetitive rants. Nothing revolutionary really, just what we expected. But still, it would do SLEAFORD MODS no justice to claim that they didn’t give a fuck about the music. Key Markets proves, probably more than ever before, the importance of Andrew Fearns’ input. From Bronx in a Box, Silly Me to Tarantula Deadly Cargo we witness a little rockabilly here, a slice of funk and ska rhythm there. Not in a random fashion though, it’s a play with crafts that SLEAFORD MODS undoubtedly possess and more and more grow into. Thus, it’s a perfect match of content and style at this point.
Williamson and Fearn have definitely put more effort into this project than their outlook sometimes might want to convey. And it transcends splendidly on Key Markets – one might even call this entertainingly varying – well, in terms of the SLEAFORD MODS sound of course. It’s grime, it’s garage and a whole fucking lot of aggressive sarcasm spit out by Williamson himself. This man has a way of working with words that’s currently unchallenged, yeah, you even could call him a poet in a sense. Especially as his ongoing mix of observation and ruthless opinion is thematically far more diversified than being just the neoliberal version of class struggles. In fact, it’d be pretty dull to recreate the whole war of classes thing because of an album released by some blokes from Nottingham.
Instead of focussing on that, one should take notice that Williamson’s rage extents to the whole culture industry that he vividly observes and that most prominently reveals the funny side of his lyrics: ‘What’d you buy your ticket for you twat? You try to make a point out of what you sack/I saw your fucking shit singer trying to look like he was studying the band’s dinner/wannabes never change, it’s the wannabe show’ – just a stupid rant? Well: ‘Am I being unintelligent? I don’t care, it’s a war you bastards, slash and despair!’.
Although they themselves might disapprove: SLEAFORD MODS‘ defiance to showmanship, their ongoing rant about everything hip, the no-effort-attitude – it’s all part of an image as well. But, and this is the important thing: it’s not an artificial one – ‘you cunt make it up’. Moreover, it’s a play with images, a calculated defiance. And this is where Key Markets slowly reveals the meta level of SLEAFORD MODS‘ seemingly simple and straight anti-pop.
This music’s a cursed mirror, showing us only the ugly side of ourselves. We might laugh at it, applause to the barking rage, find relieve in the blank offenses – but it’s still basically us that we laugh at. The consumerist We with an ugly attitude towards lifestyle, music and politics. Thus, there never has been any pressure on SLEAFORD MODS to ‘deliver’ us more of that crazy shit. The pressure is on us. Their music is an easy outlet for our suppressed anger and frustrations. There’s no need for them to change, for us there is and SLEAFORD MODS‘ music might be the most honest one around right now to express that. Fuck Culture, Love Sleaford Mods!
These two are riding the moment – Key Markets simultaneously sounds like ‘just the next Sleaford Mods’ and like a carefully balanced match of content and style.