Sleaford Mods look like a couple of geezers you’d imagine stumbling across a few pints to the wind at your local. And that’s pretty much their shtick. With the vocals taking the form of a ridiculously colloquial expletive ridden rant and the music a catchy repetitive unobtrusive background to the words, it’s a peculiar formula. I’ll admit, I’ve come to this party late. The first I’d heard of them was courtesy of Tony Mitchell’s excellent review of the Flow Festival in Helsinki, where he notes they refer to themselves as ‘electronic munt minimalist punk-hop rants for the working class,’ and he suggests their droll approach and East Midlands accent verge on stand up comedy.
It turns out that they’ve been around since 2007 released 8 albums and a couple of EP’s. The recipe seems to be remarkably similar for much of their music over the years – fast minimal vaguely electronic or post punk music that will occasionally change key over which this vaguely aggressive beat poetry, spoken word, pub soapbox.
They speak from a place, and that place is Nottingham, though it’s also many places across the UK. Increasingly on TCR it’s more personal than it was previously, less socio political comment than ‘old man shakes fist at clouds,’ with the title track about going out, leaving your child and everything not feeling right “I hate going out, going out is for young people, I can’t sit and enjoy a drink.”
Britain Thirst, with a beat straight from Dean Blunt’s Babyfather project merges the personal and the political with singer Jason Williamson suggesting that he’s preparing himself for property theft. “These people they don’t care, can’t get dole,” with a refrain that is the middle class’ greatest fear, “they’re gonna take it off me.”
I’m reminded of Arab Strab, due to both the spoken word delivery and heavy accent, though Sleaford Mods are imbued with more testosterone, more confrontation, they’re taut, a coiled spring. Williamsons vocals too at first impression appear to be just a series of unconnected front foot statements, us vs. them catchphrases, yet it really is story telling, obtuse, poetic, colourful, humorous and quite ingenious, and it comes such rapid fire that it leaves you reeling. This duo is redefining post punk, further stripping away what was already stripped down to it’s bare essentials, leaving their songs bare, skeletal, just sinew and muscle, and this is where the power lies.