Sleaford Mods @Manchester Academy [REVIEW]
Alejandro De Luna
Is there any other current act in Britain (and beyond) as raw and confrontational than the Nottingham duo?
Boredom, inequality and social deprivation. Rotten institutions, mediocre jobs and alienation. Poverty, a corrupt system and the dark side of gentrification. These are just some of the subjects that define the furious nucleus of Sleaford Mods. A packed Manchester Academy and its mixed audience – between 50-year-old somethings and young lads – are rewarded with a set of crude frankness, combative energy, and razor-sharp provocation.
The trappings of luxury can’t save you from the nail-biting boredom of repetitive brain injury (“TRC”)
We’ve heard the legacy of Ray Davies in the 60s. John Lydon in the 70s. The likes of Johh Cooper Clarke, Morrissey and Mark E. Smith during the 80s. Sleaford Mods‘ ranter Jason Williamson belongs to this club of truly outspoken English lyricists with enough brilliance and humour to skillfully decode the British idiosyncrasy. The main difference with the previous chroniclers is that Sleaford Mods erupted in this cursed age permeated by attention deficits due to technology and overloaded superfluous information, social snobbery, indifference, and emptiness. This is the age of selfie sticks and X Factor “superstars”. The season of fraudulent “artists” and bands with dull lyrics as irrelevant as your Snapchat account. Sleaford Mods smartly capitalize on this and carelessly smash the rotten state of the music industry (I got an armful of decent tunes, mate/ But it’s all so fuckin’ boring).
This is the human race
UKIP and your disgrace
Chopped heads on London streets
All you zombies tweet, tweet, tweet (“Tweet Tweet Tweet”)
People may rant about the lack of “musicianship” in the duo, but this self-inflicted minimalism is an asset rather than a lack of creative input. Their songbook may fit into a full-piece band with punky riffs and thick reverbs, but that’s the main difference between these kind of bands and Sleaford Mods: The Nottingham duo does not allow redundant distractions and instead, demand your full attention. Anybody can play three chords and call themselves “punk”, “psych” or “garage”, but Sleaford Mods avoid common places and stereotypes (With the usual stereotypes that fall for the lip / I fuckin’ hate rockers; fuck your rocker shit / Fuck your progressive side, sleeve of tattoos).
Can of Strongbow, I’m a mess
Desperately clutching onto a leaflet on depression
Supplied to me by the NHS (“Jobseeker”)
Live, the enraged verses are boosted by Andrew Fearn‘s minimalist machinery of prerecorded loops and rough beats that recall the gloomy post-punk sound. The filthy growls of Jason Williamson fill the venue and his stage presence is captivating, authentic and furious. “Jobseeker” and “Fizzy” – tales about the self-inflicted 9-5 crystal prisons – hit the stage and the audience desperately chants in unison. Are you feeling represented? By the time Sleaford Mods return for an encore, Manchester Academy becomes a frenzy stew of combative energy.
I work my dreams off for two bits of ravioli
And a warm bottle of Smirnoff
Under a manager that doesn’t have a fuckin’ clue (“Fizzy”)
Sleaford Mods are meant to be heard live – they deserve your attention. This is the last act that truly challenges the English status quo and the humdrum of ordinariness. Uncompromising, violent and vigorous.
Sleaford Mods‘ current EP is available on Rough Trade.