SLEAFORD MODS – TCR (Rough Trade EP): The great thing about Sleaford Mods—from Austerity Dogs through Key Markets and probably all the super-underground early material I haven’t heard—is that they’re political but not politicized. They’d rather shout obscenities from the cigarette-burned seats in the back of the bus than present a dissertation. And so their rants—Jason Williamson’s flurry of furious tirades and Andrew Fearn’s devilish drum-n-bass minimalist arrangements—take on the tone and cadence of the guy who just got shorted on his 60+ hour work week paycheck and bumped into every bloody idiot in London on his way to his cruddy corner pub only to find out the keg of his favorite lager just ran dry. He’s as likely to rail at one-percenters clinking wine glasses as he is garage punk wankers.
Reckless as they, Williamson is relatively subdued on the five-track EP. On last year’s Key Markets, Fearn’s simplistic loops rolled on and on while Williamson used them as a platform to vent his frustration, not worried about establishing a line-by-line rhythm until he hit the chorus. Now Williamson approximates singing, if it has to be labeled, and I prefer his more unhinged streaks a la “Bronx in a Six.” But TCR—acronym for Total Control Racing, a hand-controlled toy car set—is unprecedentedly reflective. Williamson uses the title contraption as a not-so-subtle metaphor for life: hard to control, the faster you go the more likely you are to go off the rails, and not all that fun. Suddenly aware that he’s no longer young and doesn’t enjoy venturing out with the hordes of careless young people on a Friday night, he gets pissed when the barkeep gives him a look for ordering wine, but all he can really do is grumble to himself: “I like it. I sit in me house a lot.”
The duo has distilled their style to a workable formula, one that’s still not tired after several albums—and considering they’re getting to be older guys, hope that they don’t get too tired before their beats and breaks do. B PLUS (***)