Sleaford Mods

Eton Alive

Extreme Eating

Mar 20, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Parting ways with Rough Trade following the mild disappointment of their 2017 English Tapas platter, the Nottingham austerity-punk duo Sleaford Mods have, for their fifth album "proper," formed their own imprint and made a new record that is as bleak as it is bold, as funny as it is despairing, and as surprisingly tuneful as it is atonal and hard.

Andrew Fearn's back-to-basics beats are still prevalent. Although this time they are mediated and sweetened by occasional sweeps of downright melodious electronica and forays into boldly complex backdrops for the inimitable Jason Williamson's always-biting, often savagely downbeat state-of-the-country regional rap.

Despite their occasional protestations that they aren't necessarily a political band, the former Labour Party member Williamson (ousted in 2016 for criticizing an MP on twitter for Christ's sake) still sounds politically and socially charged. On "Policy Cream" he darkly talks of "the sound of nothing as it breaks the spell/There's no witchcraft here, it's just fucking hell," later offering the quippy "I've got two brown bins, should I only have one?/But what the council don't know won't hurt them." Williamson continues to tackle topics broad and microcosmic in a unique fashion, here breaking into a John Lydon-esque warble for the addictive, bass-driven chorus.

While Williamson has never offered solutions to society's ills, acting more as an intelligent, angry but ultimately frustrated observer, here, on songs such as the massive "Kebab Spider" (home to the most unpleasant line of the year so far "Spiders crawl out of your doner's crown"), he actually shouts down those that do appear to advocate for change, sneering "You're just saying it all to look good." Of course, earlier, on opener "Into the Payzone" he intones "We ain't hipster bashing fakes"-adding further to the contrary nature of the band's ethos.

Warbling in a low-rent Bowie tone on the sophisticated soul of "When You Come Up to Me," barking rapidly on the super-powered "Flipside" (home to the album's most accurate and hilarious line"Graham Coxon is like a left-wing Boris Johnson") and smoothly harmonizing on closer "Negative Script," the progression of his art is evident and equal to Fearn's. "These streetlights are the pointers on the cold and quiet roads," he notes, poetically, later adding "I don't believe in fun" and summing up nicely with the chorus line "I don't wanna flip the page of my negative script." While they may have their tongue stuck in the cheek here, they do very occasionally sound more like they have put a foot in the mouth. Is there much agency any more to pure nihilism, however humorously delivered?

Certainly this is a vast step forward for Sleaford Mods, musically, tonally, and in terms of performance and the perfection of the biting couplet, but they appear to remain steadfast in their long-held belief that, as Williamson states on "Subtraction," "the only change I like is in my pocket." (www.sleaford-mods.myshopify.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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