Review Summary: Austerity Dogs is a strong, ferocious debut by the post-punk/hip-hop duo from Nottingham, UK, with plenty to shout and argue about in working class Britain.
“It’s a ***hole, but its home”, Jason Williamson, frontman of UK post-punk/hip-hop Sleaford Mods, states about the city of Nottingham, where the band is based. The visible anger emanating from the lyrical and vocal delivery of Jason Williamson on any Sleaford Mods track is bred from the experience of the realities of everyday life in Nottingham; lack of opportunities, social disorder, locked in as a dead-end labour worker, pissed off in general. Sleaford Mods call themselves ‘electronic munt minimalist punk-hop rants for the working class’, it is incredibly hard to argue with that statement, as ‘Austerity Dogs’ is the perfect embodiment of the realities of everyday working class people within times of tax increases and the cuts on disposable income.
A noticeable element of the album holistically is the sonic approach within the production; it is minimal and not very dynamic in the palette of instruments and sounds used. ‘Austerity Dogs’ is driven by post-punk basslines that loop consistently with rough cuts of drum clips, with the occasional synth melody to add a bit of texture to the tracks; these are all created by the other half of Sleaford Mods, Andrew Fearn. It all sounds mundane and coarse, but that is the charm and also it serves a colossal purpose; it encapsulates the imagery and environment of working class Britain and fuses with Williamson’s impassioned, irate vocal rants about Boris Johnson and Gordon Brown being ‘wankers’ on the track ‘My Jampandy’. This track only has two different notes played on the bass guitar with a drum loop, but it is easily one of the catchiest and effective tracks you will hear.
‘Fizzy’ continues the outrage of everyday working life, with Williamson rambling at his boss ,“Callin' all the workers plebs/You better think about the future/You better think about your neck/You better think about the *** hairdo you got mate/I work my dreams off for two bits of ravioli/And a warm bottle of Smirnoff/Under a manager that doesn't have a ***in' clue”. This track is a highlight of the album, and also showcases how effective Williamson is in getting the message across, with his Mark E Grant/Shaun Ryder-esque vocal and lyrical delivery, it is intimidating and strong in local accent, but you find yourself hanging onto every word that he says because it is honest and believable; a quality that makes Sleaford Mods so endearing.
‘Austerity Dogs’ is a dark, rough and ferocious album with a very comical side, looking at the state of Britain from the working class perspective at almost disbelief. The rough production, lyrics and vocal delivery are an interesting listen and radical in the current UK music scene. There are points within the album where it does overstay its welcome to the point of exhaustion, mainly on the second half where tracks such as ‘***street’ and ‘Don’t Wanna Disco Or 2’ are much weaker on impact, they seem to trudge along without any real direction. You can argue that the one-dimensional approach to the production with the lack of any dynamics after 25 minutes could be the reason for these tracks falling flat, but they are certainly not as catchy and powerful as the earlier tracks. ‘Austerity Dogs’ though is a very strong raw debut full of honesty and intensity. It will polarise the general public with its minimalistic and curse-riddled lyric content, but that is the purpose of this release, just as Williamson talks about how austerity splits the social classes.