Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sleaford Mods - Key Markets

Sleaford Mods - Key Markets
Harbinger Sound CD/LP/DL

I now find myself in the curious position of reviewing a release that has already found itself the recipient of glowing reviews in the The Guardian, The Times and of all things The Daily Telegraph. How did that happen? Witness then the curious rise of Sleaford Mods and Harbinger Sound, from never made a penny noise label putting out 100 run LP’s by the likes of Pain Jerk and Contagious Orgasm to home of arguably the most important band the UK.  And all this without the aid of fat brown envelopes, glitzy websites or an ever churning Twitter account.  

Ever since an Austerity Dogs test press turned up one Saturday morning and I spent the rest of the day listening to the thing on repeat, rapt and rapidly trying to write down the lyrics for a lame review, I soon began asking myself ‘how far can they take this thing’? I mean its that simple its laughable. Two blokes and a laptop? Is that it? A Suicide for austerity Britain? Kraftwerk after half of them have been laid off? How far can you take such a simple set up before it all rolls back on itself and the punters move on to the next big thing? One album? Two? A small tour and a support slot and back to the Rammel Club until thirty years down the line you’re on the bill at the Barbican with Terry Riley and some African thumb piano merchants.

And then Divide and Exit came along and with it some of their strongest material to date. Tweet, Tweet, Tweet hit a zeitgeist bullseye not seen since The Specials Ghost Town and while it may not have shot up the charts and embedded itself into a nations psyche [yet - these are dark days for the charts] it at least further propelled them into the welcoming arms of jaded music journos tired of reviewing the new Bjork and interviewing floppy hatted singer songwriters with a million Twitter followers.

It wasn’t until they got a mention in the Daily Mail that I knew they’d truly made it. These foul mouthed Wreckers of Civilization who dare to knock Boris off his bike and don’t forget Saturdays paper and its free 16 track CD soundtrack to the summer featuring Katrina and the Waves and Men Without Hats singing The Safety Dance. You can dance if you want to.

And so it came to pass that their third album for Harbinger Sound appeared and with it bigger venues, Glasto slots and DM’s from The Prodigy and Leftfield, [not fogetting th book of lyrics, art shows on late night BBC2 and endorsements from Stewart Lee and Iggy Pop] Personally I’d like to see them in the charts, get an airway ban followed by a full page spread in the Mail with Fearn and Williamson spoiling middle England’s breakfast. We live and dream.

I needn’t have worried about Key Markets being a duffer. It was what I feared the most, having to choose my words carefully and point to the floor fillers while skipping over the also rans. If anything its their more complete work. Williamson’s vocal delivery has become, and I mean this most sincerely folks, more refined. As have his targets. Compare the guttural, spit flecked wage slave rants of ‘Fizzy’ to the more laconic delivery of ‘Rupert Trousers’ and its withering observations of Boris and his brick and the cheese making Blur-ites. Compare the slinky grooving bass of Tarantula Deadly Cargo with the rattling bass of Routine Dean.

Key Markets is perhaps the most confident Sleaford Mods album so far, the one that sees them move further out into an orbit of their own, creating a world where the stream of consciousness lyrics live cheek by jowl with pin sharp jabs at Tory jokers and those who choose to wear £200 wellies. Its the album I feel they’d be happiest with. Its the one where Williamson’s urgent studio written lyrics are the accompaniment to a killer beat as formulated by Fearn.

Witness ‘Silly Me’;

And then the crap kicks in makes everything go thin, lost out square grout, weather bangs on my door, experts come out, the dud work, chirping on about ya music moves, you run a crap club in brum you loose, I won, I won.

Any idea what thats about? Me neither.

Witness ‘The Blob’;

Ready! In Service fuck me its a pity party ebola people in masks airport motorola hey motto tripping over the toblerones near victoria’s not very good secret they’re knickers mate ice box challenge and all the aeros I like mine in a packet mint flavour no zeros, have it culture! Organic farting in the pool what a waste I like a bit of smell I like a bit of taste stroll around the grounds the garden every house used to have one in 1965 now look at us oh what a fucking life!! 

Witness ‘In Quite Streets’:

Weaning it on my angle you fucking satanist its not a pentangle, arthur! No druids out of date barrel fluids I go large for a pound and regret it greasy, a sharp contrast from the newly adopted organic nice mate easy variety is the lie of life no lonely hearts club just a collection of moose faced bastards.

Witness ‘Cunt Make It Up’

Its the wannabe show and you always wanna be the same, posy shit and leather jacket, motorbikes from the 50’s you live in carlton you twat you’re not snake fucking plissken!

And while the press home in on the Tory bashing elements hence:

Boris on a bike, quick knock the cunt over. [Face to Faces]

Most forget the humour:

Gary Coopers on the glue cos he stuck to his guns [Bronx in a Six]

Key Markets has its punk moments; No Ones Bothered, the crowd chanting intro to first track to ‘Live Tonight’. In Quiet Streets rattles along for four minutes until you realise it has an outro chorus thats one of the best things they’ve done. These things creep up on you. The lounge piano that opens Tarantula Deadly Cargo is the precursor to some languid bass and was the song they finished their set with the last time I saw them in Leeds on a night where Williamson nearly lost his voice and everyone still went home brimming with verve and happiness. They’re having the times of their lives. Finish your set off with a slow one about people fleeing persecution. ‘Just one Cornetto mate’.

Rupert Trousers is all louche with Williamson sat watching the Tory Party conference where Tory joker in Wolfs clothing Boris Johnson brought out a house brick to make a point on housing during his ‘oh isn’t he soooo funny speech’ to the faithful [I was actually in Birmingham during the Tory Party Conference and outside the media tent, a tent wrapped in the Tory motto ‘Securing A Better Future’ lay a homeless man in a sleeping bag who security deemed to be of such low risk they left him there for me to take pictures of]. But I digress.

They’ll change of course. They have to. They jagged their jobs in so they could tour and record unhindered by alarm clocks and managers and supervisors and targets. But if Key Markets is a product of this new found freedom then its a win win situation. Not for them the coke filled difficult third album [I’m deliberately forgetting the pre Fearn releases here] instead an album that further cements their reputation as the best band in Britain.

I could go on but y'know.

Key Markets is out on Friday.

1 comment:

Steve said...

An excellent write-up Mark. You'll be first choice when it comes to writing their first "biography" later this year …