Sleaford Mods: Nevermind the Bullocks

Text by @KralTunes

Every now and then, an artist(s) will emerge that will do the seemingly impossible…shock me.  I could hear any singer sing about anything and I’ll hardly bat an eyelash.  It takes real hutzpah to make me wince (I’ve always wanted to use that word in a meaningful way).  And while I may have not found that group with this latest review, they can pretty damn close at times.

Vocalist Jason Williamson and musician Andrew Fearn make up the unusual and interesting duo of SLEAFORD MODS.  Their album, Retweeted, is a compilation release spanning the groups early years (2006-2012).  To the uninitiated, this a great introduction to the band.  FULL DISCLOSURE:  This duo is clearly an acquired taste.  The amount of ‘wankers’, ‘cunts’ and other charming British slang coming out of the vocalists’ mouth may (probably will) be revolting to some.  The art for this album was too much for my boss @tonightatdawn to take, so I had to use a more conservative image for the article header.  (For those interested, the actual album art can be seen here).

Aside from the choice verbiage, the bands music creates an authentic old school punk feel, albeit with a contemporary electronic tinge.  Their material is primarily a spoken word/shouting affair…Sleaford Mods are not attempting to make it on mainstream radio with any of these tracks.

Lyrically, much of this album is more spoken word than sung, with many of these tracks deal with typical adolescent topics (getting drunk, high, or off, basically) however Williamson does delve into more socially relevant issues, such as poverty and unemployment, such as the 60’s mod influenced “Jobseeker (Alternate Version)”, which reenacts a conversation with an unemployment agent:

Mr. Williamson your employment history looks quite impressive
I’m looking at three managerial positions you previously held with quite
Reputable companies, isn’t this something you’d like to go back to?
Nah, I’d just end up robbing the fucking place,
You’ve got a till full of 20s staring at you all day,
I’m hardly going to bank it?  I got drugs to take and ass to break. (classy stuff, there)

“The Mekon”, another highlight, where the overall theme of carpe diem is summed up in the first 3 words: “Who dares, wins”; yet Williamson continues to add color to the conversation with biting observations of the anti-capitalizers:

“Whats it like, sticking pros into boxes of dead chickens until 8 o’clock at night/What’s it like, knowing your just an average musician, and this is your short life”

The tracks where Williamson actually attempts to sing (“Jason Stop Wanking”, “the Cherry Tree”) are rare, but are also highlights of the album, especially when supplanted with yearning lyrics (“I want to get away from this frank hairy bollocks, but I just can’t adjust”).

 Musically, many riffs and samples of well known songs recycled.  SOUL COUGHING’S “Super Bon Bon” (“Graham”), THE HEAVY’S “Girl” (“My Music”), and THE WHO’S “Boris the Spider” (“Dead Cities”) are just a few.  When not stealing (err, I mean, sampling) others material, Fearn provides rather minimal beats to accentuate the lyrics.

The downside to this compilation is the length.  Clocking in at nearly 90 minutes, you find yourself looking at the tracklist to see if you are nearing the end, only to find that you have a third of an album left to go.  By the time “Tramp Stamps and trendy Bollocks” hits the speakers, the novelty begins to wear paper thin.  Tracks like “Chop, Chop, Chop”, at 8 minutes long, are 6 minutes too long.  The end of the album is littered with more hip-hop based tracks; “Polics, Stop!”, and “Rollatruc” have a more electro-fueled feel to them.

This release serves its overall purpose (at least for me) as a taster to the bands overall sound, leaving the listener with a discography  to look forward to.

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