One-dimensional. Exhilarating. Crude. Hilarious. Gritty. Perplexing. These are just some of the words that have probably been used to describe Sleaford Mods in the last 12 months. All of them may be true, but 'Key Markets' is some of the most invigorating, honest and vital music you will hear this year. Their rise has taken some time — the Nottingham duo's material dates back to as early as 2007 — and perhaps that's down to their quite unique and uncompromising style.
For the uninitiated, the musical premise is simple: Jason Williamson delivers ferocious, stream-of-consciousness style rants set against a minimal backing of loops and gnarly bass, provided by Andrew Fearn. It really is that straightforward. Yet, in their simplicity the duo have forged something that has really resonated with the masses.
'Key Markets' picks up where last year's sublime 'Divide And Exit' left us - minute yet entirely relatable observations, wondrous punk poetry and unmerciful verbal assaults on everyone and everything from Nick Clegg to Hawaii Five-O. Williamson's brazen comedic wit is something that's been highlighted many times before and here, he's on ludicrously good form. 'Face To Faces' deals with the workings of "the capital machine" and touches on the desperate state of politics in Britain, "New build, new bricks / New methods, old tricks / Enchantment on the high seas". A foul-mouthed tirade on London's own bumbling mayor only heightens the impact: "Boris on a bike, quick knock the c*nt over / The man of the people is now a man with no temples / Blood falls out his head like policy / In the fucking U-turn department".
Elsewhere there's more gems to be unearthed. Wannabe posers take a pummelling, "Leather jacket / Motorbikes from the fifties / You live in Carlton you twat" ('Cunt Make It Up'), a radio DJ makes an unlikely target, "Lauren Laverne keeps playing Tumbling Dice" ('Bronx In A Six') and what could easily be their band slogan,"We don't want radio play, we're not fucking Cannon and Ball" ('In Quiet Streets').
Actually, almost every song features at least one moment of laugh out loud hilarity. To call it a comedy album would be extremely crass, though - and to call it 'Divide And Exit' 2.0 would be equally as ridiculous; one reason being that Fearn's DIY beats are much more varied this time around. The strutting grooves of 'Silly Me' and 'Tarantula Deadly Cargo' offer a slightly different slant while Williamson's measured delivery shows the two are capable of restraint when needed.
It's unlikely that the band will have converted anyone who wasn't a fan prior to 'Key Markets' but they will have gained thousands of loyal new ones, that much is certain. It says something about our society that an act so obtuse and jagged as Sleaford Mods have made it to where they are now, and something else about Williamson and Fearn's own determination and belief in their vision. Sleaford Mods have managed to express perfectly and effortlessly, what it feels like to live in 21st century Britain and from here, they can only get bigger.
Words: Luke Winstanley
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