All That Glue, by Sleaford Mods
Suggested by Paul Wray
I was blown away by this.
For a while.
Sleaford Mods are an electronic punk duo from Nottingham. Formed in 2007, they specialise in ranted shouted punk-related slices of working-class lyrical beauty over a steady and bass-driven constructed electronic sound. It’s angry stuff, up close and direct, with themes and messages that will resonate with a subset of listeners that can seen their lived mirrored in the narrative.
I’m a champion for any art that centres on the normal. On everyday people. My mantra is that the world needs more songs about binmen. If you check out the Sleaford Mods publicity shots, you’ll see they’ve taken this fine idea and gone one better: they actually present as binmen too. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve seen images of any act that looks less suited to musical stardom. Maybe Sean Ryder and Bez, or Shane McGowan, but that’s it.
All That Glue is a twenty-two track best of compilation, running an hour and twelve minutes. It starts well, setting the scene for the rest of the album with the galloping McFlurry. Lyrically, it’s a touch impenetrable, but there’s a verve and an almost confessional feel. When we hit the third track Fizzy, the first line hammers home the measure of the act… “The c**t with the gut and the Buzz Lightyear haircut / Callin’ all the worker’s plebs”. It’s a grimy, charged song that pulls no punches, cataloguing the depth of feeling and anger of a workforce for their privileged bosses. It’s gritty, north-of-Watford-Northern chic, that would likely punch you in the face for using the word chic unironically.
Soon, we reach my favourite song, Jobseeker. This is best summed up from the opening lines of verse two: “So Mr Williamson, what have you done in order to find gainful employment since your last signing on date?” / “F**k all! I’ve been sat around the house, wanking.”
Ian Dury is a definite lyrical influence for the Sleaford Mods, but while I found Dury’s seaside postcard cheeky tawdriness rather pathetic, the Mods are blunt and brutal. It’s energetic and exciting, and like a scab, you need to pick at it. The songs are short, but densely packed with ideas, their downtrodden yet purple prose spreading under the skin like a new bruise.
Sadly, my old bones are unable to keep pace with the ferocity for a full hour and twelve minutes. As the songs roll by, and the duo’s agenda is made transparent with each expanding image, the sound becomes rather wearying. While lyrically it’s nuanced and acerbic, it’s rather basic both musically and vocally. There’s a Casio Keyboard earnestness to the tunes, and a palpable need for validation as things progress, as if the Mods are fighting through their Imposter Syndrome and don’t fully believe in their own strengths. The stark lack of beauty feels like a cheese grater to the exposed cheek, and it comes over as both exhausting and slapdash at points: the chorus for Blog Maggot, for example, is simply “Blog Maggot! / Blubuhhublubluuh!”, which is not edifying, enlightening, or even English.
All That Glue gets a mediocre 5/10. I loved it at first, as it flicked me the Vs, but in the end the Mods proved to be little more than foul-mouthed one-trick ponies.