Sleaford Mods – Sleaford Mods EP review

Secret Meeting score: 78

by Phil Scarisbrick

Emerging in the aftermath of the financial crisis, few acts have quite nailed the ongoing strife of the poverty-striken and working class of the UK like Sleaford Mods. With their trademark “electronic munt minimalist punk-hop rants”, the Nottingham duo chronicle subjects such as unemployment, low-paid work, celebrity culture and capitalism in a style that is a total one-off. They’ve also been very prolific, releasing seven studio albums and three extended plays in nine years. Following on from last year’s English Tapas LP, the duo have returned with a new, self-titled EP.

Lead single – Stick In A Five And Go – tells the tale of a protaganist full of violent anger after a social media argument with somebody he’d never met. The driving, Stooges-evoking bass line sits atop of a simple electronic beat as frontman – Jason Williamson – reveals the unfolding plan and its execution. And the second track follows the same violent tendencies with the even more overt title: Bang Someone Out. Speaking of the songs, Williamson said “The lead tracks are mostly full of violent tendencies that only transpire through imagination. People are powerless under the political monster and the intense anger and frustration morphs into illusions of attacking each other through the bravado of social media, depression and paranoia.”

Gallows Hill tells the tale of suffering workers, grafting their whole lives in the place that will eventually kill them, as a single, sustained organ note whirls throughout the song and adds an eerie atmosphere to an already troubling track. Dregs sees the pace and peril lift as we hear Williamson trying to get his hands on booze and fags by relying on other people’s ‘dregs’. The exacerbation in his voice emphasises the desperation the lyrics unveil. While Jokeshop finishes things off over another bass-heavy beat from instrumentalist, Andrew Fearn, as Williamson talks about the ending of something, but is never quite explicit over what it is.

This collection sees great leaps forward musically. Bang Someone Out is more developed than almost anything else they’ve done, and Jokeshop also features Williamson singing, rather than his trademark rapping/ranting. And both additions only enhance this collection rather than detract.

It is easy to dismiss EPs as a stop-gap between albums. But in the ever changing musical landscape, people are consuming their sounds in more bitesize pieces. Therefore, the EP format may well be the way forward for acts who release music more regularly, meaning they can put out short, sharp bursts. It is also a format that works very well for a band like Sleaford Mods. The scale and intensity of their bilious, looping music can sometimes feel too much over a full LP. This five track attack feels glorious with its angry, frustrated fist full of music, and helps you fully appreciate this essential act.

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