Sleaford Mods – Key Markets
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you 2015’s overnight sensation with an eight album discography to its name. The Sleaford Mods have been issuing nearly interchangeable records since 2007, although the bass/drum loops became nominally more compelling once vocalist Jason Williamson entrusted them to Andrew Fearn with their 2012 disc Wank. Word of mouth has built gradually, and Key Markets seems poised for a breakout through sheer persistence rather than evolution or compromise.
The UK duo’s formula is simple yet effective – over rudimentary beats, Williamson spews relentless and often hilarious bile on topics indecipherable to anyone not intimately steeped in Brit culture. The effect is akin to The Fall with a beatbox, if Mark E. Smith had a wicked sense of humor. The fortysomething Williamson even sports some of Smith’s haggard working class looks, albeit with more chiseled features.
Key Markets is as good an entry point as any, even if Williamson doesn’t unleash a zinger as choice as “I can’t believe the rich still exist/ let alone run the fucking country, mate” from last year’s excellent Divide and Exit. The most frequent target of his ire this time out is London mayor Boris Johnson, who’s indirectly responsible for the Mods’ higher profile after the tabloids dubbed them the “Kill Boris” band. I wouldn’t be surprised if their musical targets began taking getting slagged as a badge of honor – on Key Markets Williamson unloads on cohorts as varied as Kate Bush, the Von Bondies, Shakin’ Stevens, Rocket from the Crypt and Blur.
Key Markets’ most intriguing development is “Rupert Trousers.” Set to something resembling an inverted “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” riff, Williamson shifts to an abstract recitation of loosely related fragments and for the first time I can recall, ventures beyond the two minute mark before launching an f-bomb (and it’s a good one – do a search on “Sleaford Mods Blur drummer”).
Key Markets deftly threads the needle between comedy and social commentary, caking both with enough profanity and obscure references to scare off all but the diehards. I wouldn’t suggest that many people need to own multiple Sleaford Mods albums – but you owe it to yourself to hear at least one.