Sleaford Mods: All That Glue review – A howl of unadulterated reality
All That Glue
If you want a soundtrack to how Britain fell part, listen to Sleaford Mods.
The second decade of the century was a momentous one for the UK. In 2011, Owen Jones published his first book, Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class, a best-selling study of Britain’s toxic class politics and deepening divisions. A few short weeks later British society teetered on the brink of collapse when riots erupted after police in Tottenham shot a local man called Mark Duggan.
In 2013, after a plethora of underground releases, Nottingham duo Sleaford Mods released their first “proper’”album entitled Austerity Dogs. It captured all the fury, hopelessness, rage and disenchantment that had been building up for years. They stood out spectacularly at time when the music world was obsessed by the return of Daft Punk and David Bowie, providing a minimalist tonic to the maximal posturing of the day.
A Sleaford Mods gig was revolutionary in its simplicity. Andrew Hearn would press play on his laptop and swig beer, while Jason Williamson, a striking frontman in the mould of English countercultural icons Shaun Ryder, John Cooper Clarke, Mark E Smith and Ian Dury, went ape. Iggy Pop and Steve Albini declared that Sleaford Mods were their favourite new band; the Daily Mail called them a “foul-mouthed left-wing duo”.
All That Glue is a timely and terrific 22-track retrospective of their career so far. Jason Williamson spits out his scattergun lyrics in a coarse East Midlands accent, which the late Mark Fisher memorably called the “most unloved in the UK”, while praising Williamson’s vocal style as as “a refusal to accept being marked as inferior.”
Williamson can sing like a Midlands man possessed, but he also pens brilliant lyrics. “Can of Strongbow, I’m a mess,” he spits on Jobseeker. “Desperately clutching on to a leaflet on depression. Supplied to me by the NHS. ”
The eventual official release of this long-standing live favourite has been greeted warmly by Sleaford fans. His delivery is stunning. Cuts like Fizzy still cut like a knife. And there are enough unreleased songs to make the tenuous case that this is nearly a new studio album hot on the heels of Eton Alive, which gatecrashed the UK top 10 last year.
The video for the current single, Second, is a hoot, as Williamson and Hearn watch a female version of themselves at an open mic night in unnamed post-industrial English town. The cover image appropriates Marcel Duchamps infamous Fountain, when a urinal submitted for exhibition in 1917 turned conventional preconceptions of art on its head.
Sleaford Mods do something similar without any pretentiousness or conceptual baggage. All that Glue is a hilarious howl of unadulterated reality.