Britain in 2014, just to glumly remind you, is a place where MPs can’t be fucked discussing something as trivial as the nation’s living wage. A place where some pop stars, using legal-but-morally-murky off-shore accounts to slash their VAT bills, instead of paying their taxes properly, get all their philanthropy out in one afternoon a year in plush Pret-catered West London recording studios, wailing over the upteenth flogging of a 30-year-old charity single. Where UKIP’s slimy grip continues to tighten its stranglehold over large chunks of the voting public, and where youth culture’s current most prominent political voice is a cartoonish Hollywood arch-millionaire who’s new (and utterly serious) best-selling guide to throwing off the shackles of capitalist oppression (‘Revolution’) follows previously penned masterworks titled ‘My Booky Wook’ and ‘My Booky Wook 2’. It’s not all bad, of course, but man, some of it’s grim enough to garrote yourself on a line of BNP bunting.
If ever there was a band made for these times, it’s Sleaford Mods. The Notts scowlers have been taking no prisoners with their grubby, scathing bedroom mod-hop for years now, furiously slinging vitriol at everyone from David Cameron to My Bloody Valentine fans – “if you like feedback that much, get a job at the council,” frontman Jason Williamson hiliariously barked on ’14 Day Court’. The pair were made to wait till recently though for a richly deserved breakout smash: April’s ‘Divide and Exit’. Spitting and snarling over rickety drum machine beats provided by partner-in-antagonism Andrew Fearn, Williamson cut a brutally compelling figure on tracks like the searing ‘Tied Up In Nottz’. Zipping past payday loans shops and rain-sodden Spars on the backseat of a bus in that track’s video, he ferociously complained: “It’s all so fucking boring… Weetabix, England, fuckin’ Shredded Wheat, Kellogg’s cunts.”
As NME’s Louis Pattison put brilliantly in his review, when Williamson approaches the mic, “words pour out like slurry from a pipe – a gush of swearwords, jokes, Nottingham slang, more swearwords, like a politicised Mike Skinner or John Cooper Clarke up for a scrap… Escapism’s one thing, but we need artists to sneer at the stars and sing songs about the gutter, and right now no-one does it like Sleaford Mods.” It was music mired in social dismay and harrowingly true to real life: threaded with the scurrying sounds of nearby traffic, lit by the false neon glow of pub fruit machines.
Returning with new EP ‘Tiswas’ having recently packed in their day jobs to concentrate on the band properly, Sleafords sound more vital than ever. Fearn’s beats pound harder, while Williamson digs his fingernails deeper under the skin of British life. “Four coppers hassle one homeless man under a poster of Keira Knightley,” he observes breathlessly on ‘Demon’, part of a larger attack on the modern war industry. Flashy American electronics are also in the firing line (“Dr Dre, them headphones are shit and they’re fucking everywhere mate,” blares ‘Bunch Of Cunts’) as is a certain national newspaper, on the brilliant ‘The Mail Don’t Fail’. Modern music’s current nostalgia culture of ceaseless reunions and comeback tours is another source of fury for the pair, on the EP’s storming title track: “the land that time forgot is on repeat,” Williamson gobs over a lean, skeletal production, poking fun at retro-rock “dinosaurs.” It’s a thrill from start to finish and, a week ahead of release, we’ve got the exclusive stream below, courtesy of Invada Records. Give it a listen and be sure to pick up this week’s NME for our full review.