Sleaford Mods emerge with a new E.P tackling twitter trolls, apathetic governments and travel agents to remind us why they are still one of modern Britain's most necessary acts
Sleaford Mods return with another helping of their signature brand of ferocious minimalism with a short self-titled E.P. Akin to 2016’s TCR, vocalist Jason Williamson and beat-maker Andrew Fearn present five new tracks, narrowing the gap between full album releases, with the groups last being 2017’s English Tapas.
Lead single ‘Stick in a Five and Go’ initially struck me as flatter than previous singles ‘T.C.R.’ and ‘BHS’ and I was a little disappointed it was not as daring as ‘English Tapas’ closer ‘I Feel So Wrong’, which showcased both Williamson and Fearn taking strides forward. However, the track makes more sense and is more enjoyable as part of the E.P. The chorus becomes a real ear worm, and the narrative of Williamson becoming so agitated by a twitter troll that he masquerades as a postman in a quest to confront his nemesis and stick in a five (i.e. bunch of) and go is equally humorous and unsettling. This track and the following ‘Bang Someone Out’ both deal with a particular problem for the modern age; the perils of being sucked into smart devices and the maliciousness of internet anonymity and social media bullies. On ‘Bang Someone Out’ Williamson makes the case that the hostility towards strangers through suffocating, suppressive social media platforms can be twinned with the political unrest that has pained much of the country “The plague rolls down from the hills up there / If its fit for work it can shit and stare/ This is how it’s gone on in the United Kingdom”. The track is not only a lyrical highlight, but musical one too; it’s funkier than the opener, courtesy of a shuffling bass and jukebox organ that results in the track being the most genuinely danceable Sleaford Mods song yet.
Even by the band’s standards, ‘Sleaford Mods’ is a particularly bleak piece of work. ‘Dregs’ is led by a lumbering, heavy bass perfectly suited to Williamsons personal account of his time as a glass collector; grassing on lads smoking at the back and getting high enough to warrant a managerial warning, before raucously howling ‘Spit Tray!’. ‘Gallows Hill’ is an excellently eerie ode to a notorious Nottingham cemetery, a place where ‘early morning workers use this killing rain/to navigate the path to where they work’ and the ‘Pimps kill girls and boys’. It’s interesting to see Williamson drift away from the scorning internal monologues he has become associated with, moving towards more linear and literate descriptions of people and places, and it works really well on tracks like this. Closing track ‘Joke Shop’ is a pleasing blend of all the things the group have presented so far, Fearn’s instrumental features some enjoyable keyboard blips over the trademark sauntering bassline and there is a clear hip-hop influence to Williamson’s delivery on the verse, which is then countered by some of his most confident singing on the bridge.
Fans of Sleaford Mods can rest easy; this EP is a less than gentle reminder that the duo still have much to offer, with avenues yet to be fully explored, all the while without sacrificing their essential brand of sardonic social sentiment.