Review Summary: "Key Markets" showcases Sleaford Mods at their most pissed off state, but also exhibits a strong progression in production as well as witty, ferocious and political lyrical delivery from Jason Williamson.
“Go smash the parliament up…it’s ***ed, it is literally attack on young people, people at the lower end of the society spectrum.” The policies of the Budget 2015 encompass the anger and frustration that Sleaford Mods are portraying at the moment. With the general election out of the way and the Tories securing a majority win, the overview of more austerity is ever looming across the UK, and Sleaford Mods have had enough. After the exploding success of their previous album, “Divide and Exit”, with its tongue-in-cheek rants mixing political issues with toilet humour, “Key Markets” is undoubtedly more direct and incensed in its lyrical delivery, as well as taking a more tenebrous approach in production. Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn are more pissed off than ever; and it results in an album that is more engaging and compelling than their previous albums.
The lyrics are not subtle on “Key Markets” and are straight to the point politically, this adds to the damp atmosphere of each track that was not as prevalent on “Divide and Exit”. The track “Face to Faces” is one of the lyrical highlights of the album, where Jason ferociously rants over a pulsating, commanding drum beat: “Boris on a bike/quick knock the cunt over/the man of the people is now a man with no temples/blood falls out of his head like policy in the ***ing U-turn”. The anger from this track is legitimate and does not stay shy away from the frustrations of working class Britain, even taking a stab at the Liberal Democrats: “Nick Clegg wants another chance, really"/this daylight robbery is now so ***ing hateful, it is now accepted by the vast majority”. It is clear that the lyrics on “Key Markets” have been taken up another notch and is now speaking to the general public precisely. Within all its temper and resentment, there are still some humorous moments as well. “In Quiet Streets” is another focal point on “Key Markets”, with it’s playful bass line and fast tempo, Jason Williamson takes another jab at a political figure: “Miliband got hit with the ugly stick/not that it matters the chirping cunt obviously wants the country in tatters”. There are many other lyrical highlights on “Key Markets”, and with it’s witty, irate and sometimes nonsensical approach, it drives the album throughout its whole duration and keeps the listener engaged and have the effort to decipher what Willamson has to say.
“Key Markets” has also undoubtedly improved production over “Austerity Dogs” and “Divide and Exit”. Right from the kick-off with “Live Tonight”, the drums and bass are punchier and authoritative; bringing huge impact to the overall soundscape and assists Jason Williamson’s vocal delivery with precision. Williamson is known for his energetic and vigourous vocal, every syllable pummeling the microphone. To hear improvements in the overall production is a very welcome addition and drastically enhances the listening experience over their previous albums. Andrew Fearn has augmented his talents even further and added textures not heard before on previous albums. “Bronx in a Six” features small touchs of slithering synths within the chorus, “Rupert Trousers” is a dark, post-punk approach not explored before by Sleaford Mods, and “Silly Me” is a radio-friendly track that has Jason Williamson sing the lyrics on the chorus with great effect.
The variety within “Key Markets” is appreciable and the small dynamics used in each track shows a departure from the usual bass guitar-drum loop approach on their previous releases, though there are some weak tracks on the album. “Giddy on the Ciggies” tends to overstay its welcome as one of the longest tracks on the album; its too repetitive and one-dimensional in comparison. “The Blob” is quite an anti-climatic end to the album, where it just stays in one direction and tempo and does not take off compared to tracks like “No Ones Bothered”. Though Sleaford Mods are not completely revolutionising their sound this time round, it is clear that they have decided to branch out a little and mix up the song structures and sounds, illustrating huge confidence and the desire to speak out making “Key Markets” their strongest effort to date.