Sleaford Mods review – an angry state of the nation report


Two individuals, Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods, enter the stage while wearing matching cargo shorts. The UK Grim’s title track from their most recent album sets the mood with its pounding bass. The duo, hailing from Nottingham, then kicks things up a notch as Fearn’s drum machine goes off and Williamson’s vocals resemble a bird of prey. They launch into a scathing commentary on the state of the nation, with Williamson declaring that in England, nobody can hear you scream. This statement serves as both a warning and a condemnation.

The duo’s fourth album, UK Grim, has achieved a spot in the UK Top 10. Fearn’s use of minimal electronic beats amplifies Williamson’s nihilistic and surreal lyrics about deep-seated inequality, class tourism, and utter desperation. With a background of metal sheets resembling motorway crash barriers, the duo performs a setlist that encompasses ten years of justified anger before turning the focus inward.

The latest track, Smash Each Other Up, showcases the signature sound of Sleaford Mods, with a sharp commentary on the violence caused by austerity. The lyrics also take a jab at the idea of “levelling up” touted by the Tories. The intense bass adds to the energy of the song, shaking the very foundations of the building. Another track, DIwhy, calls out supposed punks for selling out and highlights the struggle of creating outsider music while gaining mainstream success. Lead singer Williamson sarcastically shouts, “You’re just another loud band, nothing original!” as Fearn enthusiastically controls the beats with his laptop. The pace is fast and frantic, but the overpowering volume sometimes makes it difficult to decipher Williamson’s words.

The conversation is limited, but Williamson states their mission clearly: “We are Sleaford Mods and everyone hates us.” This holds true even for two proud antagonists. In November, during a performance in Madrid, Williamson stopped the show when a fan repeatedly heckled and threw a Palestinian keffiyeh on stage. Later, he tweeted: “Don’t ask me to take sides on something I have no real understanding of during a concert. I am a singer. My job is music. The only thing I know for sure about war is that I am tired of senseless deaths, just like everyone else. It doesn’t matter what belief system it falls under.” This sparked heated debates on social media, even after Williamson released a longer statement addressing the issue. Some fans expressed disappointment in a band known for being outspoken. The criticism has clearly affected them, and despite Williamson’s bravado, it’s unclear if “everyone hates us” is a defiant complaint or a source of pride.