- - 9/109/10
These unlikely punk heroes of Austerity Britain smash expectations.
Key Markets is the third full album from Nottingham-based punk/hip hop duo Sleaford Mods. The group is led by vocalist and lyricist Jason Williamson, and beat maker Andrew Fearn, and they have made a name for themselves as the angry, silenced voice of 21st century Britain.
Coming off the critical success of last year’s Divide and Exit, there has a been a sense bit of uncertainty about this record. Can they keep up the same venom and ferocity that 2013s Austerity Dogs and the aforementioned Divide and Exit had, without them becoming a one dimensional? Fortunately, Key Markets is exactly where Sleaford Mods need to be: still angry, still hilarious, yet moving forward with their signature sound without losing what makes them so interesting.
Fearn’s simple bass and drum backing tracks are still the instrumental focus, but on a couple of songs there is an obvious progression, with dark synths and more complex bass lines leading the way. Tracks where the instrumentation really stands out include ‘Silly Me,’ where Fearn introduces a slower, funkier bass, ‘No One’s Bothered’ which has this great, fast punk rhythm and the overhanging slow gloom of ‘Rupert Trousers.’
When discussing Williamson’s voice, which has always been the Marmite of the band, it’s easy to see that the idea of opening up their signature sound for mild experimentation is not just left to Fearn’s production. The rapid fire verses are still spat out like a machine gun and the shouted one line chorus still appears on most tracks. But on this record there is more of Jason singing, or at least creating a stronger vocal melody, which works really well, particularly on ‘The Blob,’ ‘Tarantula Deadly Cargo’ and the excellent ‘N Quiet Streets.’
One formula that hasn’t been tampered with is Williamson’s way with words, particularly his sense of humour, which usually takes the form of a cutting remark against someone whom he deems repugnant. Williamson manages to get a quick stab at someone in nearly every song and the victims range from politicians “Boris on a bike, quick knock the cunt over,” wannabe rock stars “you always wanna be the same, posy shit and leather jacket,” or anyone who takes his fancy “David Gandy ripped up tory cunt”. ‘Bronx in a Six’ is the strongest example of the pure vitriol that Williamson showcases on the album, with long verses full of blood curdling rage aimed at “chinney wine tasters who die in boxes like the rest of us wasters.”
Politics is still as high as ever on the Williamson’s agenda and it’s refreshing to see a modern band not pulling any punches when it comes to Westminster, and Williamson’s disdain is felt strongest on ‘Rupert Trousers,’ as he barks out “idiots visit submerged villages in two hundred pound wellies”, on ‘Face to Faces’ with the line “This daylight robbery is now so fucking hateful, it’s accepted by the vast majority” and on the dynamic ‘No One’s Bothered,’ with the cutting “you’re trapped, me too, alienation, no one’s bothered”.
It seems that the fame that their last album brought them has not softened or calmed them; it has only given them the courage and momentum to keep it up, and progress even further.
Watch Seaford Mid’s opinion diving performance of ‘No One’s Bothered’ from Later… With Jools Holland below (via BBC).