Still stoically minimal, Sleaford Mods return with a self-titled EP featuring more complex song structures and compelling storytelling. It begins with two tracks which both deal with the anonymity of trolling in the social media age and the desire to break past on-screen interaction, even if that then leads to physical confrontation. Alienation, as consistent across the band’s discography, remains a theme throughout.
The opener serves as a statement of intent for what’s to come with its unique blend of comedy and hardman aggression. ‘Stick In A Five And Go’ tells the story of a man who decides not to brush off the nasty comment of a stranger on Twitter, instead taking revenge in real life. Beyond the biting wit and UK-specific humour, this song has a catchy chorus, even while keeping hold of the signature metallic bass and spare drum machine beats.
‘Bang Someone Out’ is a refreshing musical divergence for Sleaford Mods. It has a skipping beat that is reminiscent of an early Smiths track, sans jangle. The upbeat swagger interspersed with a gorgeous 60s organ tone is juxtaposed with the lyrical themes of violent frustration, again fuelled by boredom in the digital age as vocalist Jason Williamson bemoans “the days are long inside a screen”.
On the track ‘Gallows Hill’ we get even more local with a reflection on the band’s native Nottingham cemetery, the former location of a great scaffold that overlooked the town as a dominating symbol of justice. An open secret, the site still harbours spooky premonitions as a meeting point for the disreputable and as an abrasive reminder of state violence. No wonder “the council don’t like it, so they turned the lamps off”.
The anxious ‘Dregs’ one bar loop bass remains rigidly static with its unnervingly ambiguous sentiment “the dregs are mine tonight” and ‘Joke Shop’ is about pranking the world, but not actually being able to affect anything meaningful.
Portrayals of disillusioned post-Brexit individuals lose their punch in the latter half of these 15 minutes, becoming more tersely psychological – a treatment that would be better suited to the album format.
Image: Montecruz Foto via Flickr