Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sleaford Mods - Divide and Exit

Sleaford Mods - Divide and Exit
Harbinger Sound. LP/CD/DL

‘Bingo! Cutting the bingo tax and beer duty to help hardworking people do more of the things they enjoy.’ Tweet sent by Tory party Chairman Grant Shapps on budget day.

I once went into Manchester with such a bourgeois, and spoke to him of the bad, unwholesome method of building, the frightful condition of the working-peoples quarters, and asserted that I had never seen so ill-built a city. The man listened quietly to the end, and said at the corner where we parted: "And yet there is a great deal of money made here, good morning, sir." Friedrich Engels ‘The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844’.

‘I can’t believe the rich still exist let alone run the fucking country mate’.
Jason Williamson

The Sleaford Mods have yet to mellow. This is a good thing. I doubt they ever will. On this their second album proper 14 songs tear past in a segued blur of articulate observations, rye humour, pumping beats, pained ‘fuck offs’ and an urgent need to projectile vomit whatever words are forming in Jason Williamson’s head.

‘Divide and Exit’ is all shoulders back bolshy bollocks, soggy ended roll up, gritty modern day angst. Recorded in what I assume was a flurry of creative energy over the last few months its rough edges and minimalist beats show Williamson and Fearn riding the top deck unafraid of leaving in what other bands would spend hours polishing out. Its rough edges are its virtues with songs being fluffed at the start ‘shit, just keep it going’ on ‘Liveable Shit’ and tongues being tied ‘print the A4, print the A forge … ahh fuck off’, on ‘Smithy’, ‘that was shit that end bit mate’ in the run off to ‘A Little Ditty’. They’re going that quick they daren’t slow down for fear of falling off.

For the most part Fearn’s beats now have a harder minimalist edge than on last years Austerity Dogs whilst Williamson’s rants now recall recent continental gigs with mentions of currywurst, cemeteries in Paris and posh pads, ‘He liked me because I made some informed remarks about the early years of his country, big mirror, lumps of drugs, his own private lift, shit pieces of art, matter of fact statements about how he’s picking his kids up in two hours, twat, as if’ [‘You’re Brave’]. But its at home that they still hit hardest. The single ‘Tweet, Tweet, Tweet’ and its sister last track ‘Middle Men’ are pounding blasts in which Williamson’s first and last shout is a frustrated ‘New Labour!’ Its ‘Tweet, Tweet Tweet’ that’ll have 'em jumping about though ‘this is the human race, UKIP and your disgrace’ twinned to an infectious descending bass run and a one fingered keyboard solo that's just so totally perfect and fitting it makes you go all limp.

The humour, rye observations and play on words titles are all still as potent, ‘What happened to Richard? All I see is gear’, ‘I feel like Elaine Paige but without the fucking tunes and Joe Cocker bollocks, ‘Chumbawamba weren’t political, they were just crap’ and my favourite ‘… tears, Top Gun glasses, the new opium of the lasses’.   

Its all being noted and within the pages of the latest Wire no less with a two page spread that also reviewed ‘Chubbed Up’ [English slang for a fattening, sexually aroused penis in case you didn’t know] as a downloadable collection of the four singles that were the Sleaford’s pulse of activity between Austerity Dogs and what we have here. The Wire review highlights the extent to which the Sleaford Mods are now managing to escape the gravitational pull of internet obscurity and entering the consciousness of everyday talk. Continental gigs are frequent with reports of shows in Germany and France getting the kind of crowd response not seen since punk first showed its spotty face. And on Saturday its Leeds [29th of March, Wharf Chambers].

Having listened to Divide and Exit for a couple of weeks now its grown on me somewhat. Having become familiar with Austerity Dogs along with a smattering of videos on Youtube and those clutch of singles, I thought I’d got the Sleaford’s sussed; perfectly timed epithets, Williamson’s accent, the way he says ‘fuck off’ so effectively, Fearn’s ‘munt minimalist’ beats and the way he keeps the blue end of his e-cig glowing through every thirty minute set. And then the first time I heard Divide and Exit I thought that apart from several cracking singles the rest wasn’t as immediate. I was wrong and now realise Divide and Exit is a better album than Austerity Dogs. The devil is in the detail. Pull out ‘Middle Men’ and study the lyrics, tear apart the bullhorn rant of the opener Air Conditioning and the nostalgia trip of Tiswaz, does anyone else write about what its like to enter a works toilet block first thing in the morning? Williamson does - ‘so I got in this morning and went in the loo and he walked out the cubicle and it fucking stunk ... and it glides through the air … livable shit you put up with it'. Tracks like Corgi [no prizes for guessing what that ones about] are effortless stabs in the eye. ‘Rags to Richards’ and ‘Tied up in Nottz’ are cheesy titles but they work dammit. 

There’s still plenty to explore. Like a dense novel its secrets are revealed with repeat listens and this is the best bit, it never gets boring. It never will. See you down the Wharf.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've had this album on nonstop for the last month, and you're spot on. Certain tracks grow on you while others are just so immediate. This is far from SM's 2nd album...don't ignore their older stuff The Mekon , and Originator Albums, don't have Fearny's basslines, but some incredible music was produced when he was a MySpace nobody between 2006-2012.