It is here, it is finally here - quite possibly the album I have been anticipating most this year. Since reviewing 'Divide & Exit' (cleverly linked here), there has not been a few days where I have not listened to something by these guys. I have over their works and been anticipating this album since it was first hinted at earlier in 2015; it has been put back a few times, but now it has been released. I was asked by one of my mates why I didn't ask for a promo copy to review it before it came out or looked for a leak to get started - well, this is not that sort of blog to be honest. I have been really happy waiting for the record to be released, I did not want to seem like some sort of hipster man who wanted to review it first (there has been some brilliant reviews, especially from 'IDWAL FISHER' (Linked here, check him out as the review is spot on and they also have some other class reviews) by people who have been into them from their earlier days) and it is something I do as sometimes magazine and other places are not talking about stuff I am interesting in. But this is beside the point, this is the eighth album and their third for the Harbinger Sound label. For some people this will appear like their second record, but obviously that is not the case; it came out on 24 July 2015 and whilst I write this it is the 28 July 2015 - I have pretty much not listened to anything else since I purchased it Friday. It is time to see how it has turned out.
With the recording from a gig of the band's name being chanted, "Live Tonight" is a heavy bass, dirty rumbling and twisted number that starts the album off in quite possibly the best way. The pumping bass line that is the lifeblood of this song is fierce, but this is nothing compared to Mr Williamson and his opening rants. The fire is not waning on this song, if anything they have become more direct with their aims. When you first hear it, it might seem like a string of unrelated rants pasted into this number; but the more you listen to it and the more things come into focus. Laced with sarcasm and thinly barbed curses with more profanity than the average episode of Derek & Clive, ”Live Tonight" is the sound of a band in their stride and just starting to warm up. This is followed up by the first track which was released before the album came out, the anthem for the apathetic "No One’s Bothered". It feels like more measured and once again, behind the track there is a shit load of sarcasm which is mixed in with the sense of alienation and apathy. It is an aggressive number that sounds that combines the aggression with a song that is (dare we say it) danceable as well. That galloping bass line is so hypnotic and the lyrics about alienation and apathy are spot on as well, the boys set the standard very high when they released this early on and it is a good sign that they place it so early on the album. With the sound of sirens “Bronx In A Six” comes into life with the tale of a person who is now alone due to his rising fame and moving out of his home town, going on for other targets such as Jack White, the Von Blondes and not giving a shit about what people think of them. I love the lines about not giving a fuck about their culture, and then not giving two fucks about their culture – what culture, FUCK CULTURE. It struts with a swagger and has a backing track to the lyrical delivery that sticks in the head long after the song has finished. It is still rough around the edges, but that is what you want from the Sleaford Mods – the day they release a radio edit is the day I vote Tory, i.e. – it is never gonna happen. With more funk that your average Northern Soul night, “Silly Me” starts with another fantastic backing track and the lyrics (which as ever can be open to interpretation) about the people who run shitty little clubs in the Birmingham area, the press and their perception of the band and making comments about the band’s family (never cool when that happens) and how the person does not win. The music with its slow grove is fantastic and the lyrics are some of the best on here; a real gem on this album.
Winner of title of the album “Cunt Make It Up” is next; this is the best song on the album – hands down, it is fucking harsh and takes no prisoners. An attack on their critics and on other bands which they see as pretenders to music and posing without any substance, they just go for broke and hit the jackpot. When they shot “You’re shit”, you just wondering who they are talking about; there is a few bands it could be, but this is not the time to talk about it. The bit when they are talking about wearing a wrestling mask, I think I could not stop laughing at the lunacy and also at the same time thinking I have seen something like that out there – song of the album, hands down. “Faces To Faces” was the second track to be released before the album was released (on Soundcloud if I remember rightly) and the pace is quickened up after the sinister edge to “Cunt Make It Up”; this is the track which caused the Daily Fail to want them taken off Glastonbury as it talks about knocking Boris Johnson off a bike – it also aims for Nick Clegg and any other person who gets in their way. Whilst having the Daily Fail attack you is something we should all aim for, it just shows how much attention is being focused on this band; this song is a great example of what they are about and its social commentary is spot on, the music behind it is just an added bonus as the band go once more for the jugular. “Arabia” is a strange tune, it is also where the album gets it title; the bass is different with the fast, relentless and harsh drumming that give a feeling of unease to accompany the lyrics. This time the subject range from Green Coke, fire engines, freaks who want to feed on the band, blowing smoke out of your arse and not rating people you used to rate. It sounds like it should be falling apart, but it does the exact opposite. Once you get into the music, everything falls into place and the quality of the song unfolds with subsequent listens; it is strange, but it is also very clever. “In Quiet Streets” is filled with some of the harshest and funny lyrics of the album, the cream of the crop being - "Bought some cakes that taste of Koala waste. Eucalyptus - you can fuck off!” the music is still as minimal as ever, but like the rest of this album it sounds driven and loud. Ex Labour leader Ed Miliband is a target on this song - as are guest ales, cheques banked in a cash convert, computer login details, not wanting radio play, doing what you want and everything within hearing distance of the band; fierce and wonderful.
As the album enters its endgame, we are introduced to "Tarantula Deadly Cargo" which I first heard when the band performed at Glastonbury (wasn't there as I am fucked if I am spending that much money on tickets without knowing who is playing - never thought I would be thankful for the coverage from the BBC). Was not too sure about it when I first heard it, it was a slow number in the middle of a high energy set and whilst sounding decent it seemed a bit strange upon the first listen. However, with further listens it does make more sense; it is not the instant, attention grabbing number that the best percentage of this album has turned out to be. It is subtle and takes its time, once more it is very minimal (especially in the lyrical department) and it keeps the album going in the right direction. The next track is called "Rupert Trousers" and it has a sinister tone to the music and the first few spins just did not make sense once more, but once more it is a song that takes its time to sinks its hooks into your mind. The ripping into Blur and Boris Johnson getting a kicking are amongst the highlights for me here, but the main think that remains with me from this song is the music. It is hypnotic, dark and brilliant; once again the band keep surprising me with this album. The penultimate track is "Giddy on the Ciggies" which goes back to the manic vocals which sound as if the world is being given a lesson on what it should be doing, even then they will find something else to rant about. It sounds like the sound of the terminally fucked off with nothing else to lose and giving so little care about what you, me or anyone else thinks. Ending the album is "The Blob" and the swagger of earlier is back and the story of the blob is told. The blob don't care, the blob ate your date, he is a gnarly fucker and is tripping over the chocolates whilst looking after some slutty underwear. It ends the album with a short, sharp attack that is unrelenting to the end.
Ok, cards on the table - I think they have equalled 'Divide & Exit', it is a very strong successor to that album. The anticipation has been matched with an excellent album, you can hear that there has been change to the music and the production has been increased. This does not diminish anything from the sound, it is still are fierce and strong as it has been through out all the releases I have heard. The social commentary of the record is as sharp as ever, with the usual mixture of sarcasm and writhing irony. Each track is fantastic, some take longer to sink in but they are really worth it. From beginning to end, it is one of the albums of 2015 from one of the best bands going; long story short - buy it now!
10 out of ten - This is proof that there is a God (and he is very pissed off)
Top track - Cunts Make It Up
You can purchase the album from Amazon here
You can visit the Sleaford Mods website here
You can stream the album on Spotify here
You can stream the album on Deezer here
You can stream the album on Tidal here