Sleaford Mods’ new album ‘Eton Alive’ is yet another triumphant feat for the Nottingham duo. It’s crammed with some of Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn’s most innovative creations yet; and features plenty of experimentation on top of the Mods’ unique sound.
I don’t think many people who initially heard Sleaford Mods in the early part of this decade would have expected them to become as popular, and as notorious, as they are today.
On your first ever listen, the furious ranting and skeletal beats can be a bit confusing, but once you take it all in and realise the context, Sleaford Mods are both brilliant and bloody vital as a voice for the underdog. Their gallows humour about the state of this country is a bit of a medicine; channeling any fear into equal amounts of anger and laughter.
That certainly hasn’t changed with ‘Eton Alive’, as Williamson’s lyrical excellence shines right through again. In some ways it’s a rite of passage, but perhaps not one you want, to have the Mods take a dig at you, and among those blessed with such an honour this time around are Graham Coxon (‘Flipside’), music magazines (‘Big Burt’) and the local council (‘Policy Cream’).
Top-quality lyrics are a given with Sleaford Mods though, so the real refreshing positive of ‘Eton Alive’ is the new brand of instrumentals conjured up by Andrew Fearn. The grimey basslines help you recognise who you’re listening to, but there are nuggets of computer-generated synthetic gold dotted all over this record.
Not that you’d ever really associate Sleaford Mods with dancing, but ‘Eton Alive’ pumps out the best grooves the band have ever produced. The likes of ‘Kebab Spider’ and ‘Firewall’ genuinely make you bring out some proper moves, rather than the fevered head-bobbing and foot-tapping we’re used to.
On a couple of tracks we even hear Williamson unexpectedly have a crack at some proper singing, and he comes out of it in pretty good nick. This is still Sleaford Mods though, so the pair’s new found melody is tempered by some characteristic anti-music moments, such as the huge burp on ‘Into The Payzone’ and the rippin’ kazoo solo on ‘O.B.C.T’.
‘Eton Alive’ sees Sleaford Mods outdoing themselves once again, and proving that they are truly do stand alone in the current British music landscape.
They’re often grouped together, much to their ire, with the mini-wave of post-punk bands making a dent on the industry at the moment, but the Mods are peerless in terms of their ability to so accurately channel the feeling of the British working class.