Mar 13, 2023
By Jasper Willems
Sleaford Mods don’t do anything traditional, nor do they do anything trendy. It’s a small area where they operate in; a liminal space where all the bile and discontent shits what it eats and vice versa. That innate appeal has made Sleaford Mods rise from grassroots curiosity to household name. You’d think, though, that within such a specific MO—between Andrew Fearn’s thrifty beats and Jason Williamson’s motor mouthed malcontent—their records start to feel formulaic and easing towards self-parody.
The title track of the Mods’ seventh album, UK GRIM, is Sleaford Mods at their best, with Williamson pawing deep within his verbal bag to exult in new profoundly amusing ways to illustrate the UK state’s political ineptitude. Creeping into his monologues is a newfound unease with notoriety, privilege, and fame. On “D.I.Why,” Williamson scoffs at the avalanche of speak-sing post punk scathers Sleaford Mods may have inadvertently spawned, all while brutally reflecting on his own sense of ego: “This isn’t school, Does it bother me? A bit/I still wanna be rated by some prick.”
Though the returns are diminished, Fearn manages to put a fresh spin on Sleaford Mods’ withered lo-fi punk blueprint. The wobbly pulse of “Force 10 From Navarone” sounds like a club track played out loud by the neighbors. Dry Cleaning’s Florence Shaw acts as the perfect lyrical foil for Williamson, matching wits with her prepossessing phlegmatics. The other high-profile collaboration, with Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro—on “So Trendy”—sounds a tad obnoxious and corny.
To be fair, UK GRIM could have scraped a track or two (namely “Right Wing Beast” and “Don”) to make the projectile vomit of grievances flow, but most attempts to try something new within Sleaford Mods’ tried-and-true recipe feel fresh and fun. The piano-tinged “Apart From You” sounds like it crudely samples the Hill Street Blues-theme and “Tory Kong” sees them flirt with UK Garage stylings. The pungent “On the Ground” is a nice nod to the band’s advent days with records like Austerity Dogs and Key Markets reflecting life in the trenches. As long as we’re stuck in the system, it seems we’re stuck with Sleaford Mods as well; for better or worse, they’re still the one band that do, well, that thing they do…and that’s something to cherish each time they load the barrel. (www.sleafordmods.com)
Author rating: 7/10
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