Since Sleaford Mods’ inception in 2007, the duo has caught the public’s eye with its vulgar use of language and no-hold-barred subject matter.
Sleaford Mods’ hard-hitting post-punk style and vocalist Jason Williamson’s long spoken-word rants were finally brought into the limelight last year with Divide and Exit. With its eighth record Key Markets, released Friday, the duo has chosen to continue with its depressing musings, making the project an impactful but sometimes repetitive endeavour.
Whomever decided to finance its projects is either crazy radical or an artistic genius, but the general consensus hesitantly leans toward the latter. Whether he calls it singing or rapping, vocalist Jason Williamson uses his grit to drive each work home. His raspy and slurred speech gives off a drunken impression, and his lyrics dissect everyday life with a blunt scalpel.
The album’s first track “Live Tonight” is a prime example of Williamson's lack of filter. In his first verse, he shouts “Gig you into the f***ing ground; I’m not a moaning man. … Is that your auntie? What d’yer bring ya f***ing auntie for? What’s he gunna do?”
Later on in “Bronx in a Six,” Williamson not only continues with his pillaging style but drops a couple of names in the process when he references Puff Daddy and Jack White. His lack of rhyme scheme and flow can be confusing, but, for those that listen closely, there is a surprise theme in each song.
Most mothers would cringe at Williamson’s lyrics during his stream-of-conscience verses, but the singer has said that’s just the way he talks. He uses his slang and profanity to criticize unemployment, modern middle class life and the desire for celebrity.
Williamson’s in-your-face style combines perfectly with producer Andrew Fearn’s beats. The murkiness of the bass on each song is juxtaposed with hard-hitting drum machines to create a one-dimensional but powerful sound.
The closest this album ever gets to having a chorus is a repeated phrase, in part because Fearn’s beats rarely change throughout a song. The general lack of variety of the instrumentation makes the songs blend together; without its short three-second breaks, Key Markets could sound like one long song.
This might deter some people, but Williamson’s bold personality makes up for the lack of variety and is sure to draw a crowd of niche listeners.
Anyone who listens to this entire album will leave the experience exhausted and angry. Key Markets has an ever-present and relentless feeling of pure rage almost unmatched by any other group in music today. This is not an album most people will enjoy or add to their playlists — it’s too much to handle.
Yet, Key Markets can change the emotions of listeners with just one song, proving how powerful its lyrics and instrumentation truly are. Listeners should give it a try solely for the experience. It’s surprising what one track can do.
Album: Key Markets