Sleaford Mods - Divide & Exit (2014)
Artist: Sleaford Mods
Title Of Album: Divide & Exit
Year Of Release: 2014
Label: Harbinger Sound
Genre: Post Punk, Thug Rap
Total Length: 00:39:59
Total Size: ~ 107 Mb
01.Air Conditioning 02:26
02.Tied Up in Nottz 02:40
03.A Little Ditty 02:32
04.You're Brave 02:45
05.Strike Force 02:49
06.The Corgi 02:35
07.From Rags to Richards 03:26
08.Liveable Shit 03:19
09.Under the Plastic and N.C.T. 03:17
11.Keep Out of It 02:59
13.Middle Men 02:31
14.Tweet Tweet Tweet 03:02
Regular customers of Norman Records will know all about Sleaford Mods already. Due in no small part to a tireless work ethic (kudos to band and label!) large swathes of the UK and beyond now seem to be catching on, to the point where 'Divide And Exit' feels really quite zeitgeist-y. "Must-listen" reviews in the Guardian? That's quite some leap for this grimy Midlands crew who, as their frontman put it recently, were playing to two dogs and an ashtray not so long ago.
So how does 'Divide And Exit' compare to last year's dirty-but-utterly-thrilling compilation album, 'Austerity Dogs'? Fresh from their triumphant recent Leeds gig, my immediate response when I first heard 'Divide And Exit' was a bit muted. Maybe because the gig had been such a kick-ass, ferocious and enjoyable affair the album felt a bit...tame. How utterly wrong I was. Not for the first time, my initial impressions of a Sleaford Mods experience were proven to be bollocks.
There's no 'shock of the new' type thing to kick proceedings off here (recalling the epic "People, places, parties" opening lines to 'Austerity Dogs'). Instead, opener 'Air Conditioning' does the near-unthinkable and plunges Jason's distorted vocals down in the mix, rendering them almost unintelligible at points. The effect is twofold. First, it makes the listener work quite a lot harder - a sense of challenge that is sustained throughout. It's almost like the Mods have gone a little bit IDS on us: the lyrical food bank certainly isn't closed, but there's to be no easy ride through a bunch of shout-a-long lines this time. A smart move for all kinds of reasons.
Second, and even more importantly, it has the effect of foregrounding the step up in the, ahem, production values of the Mods sound. 'Divide And Exit' takes Andrew Fearns's routinely excellent, rumbling backdrop and makes it an equal partner to Williamson's barbed poetry. It's hard to put into words why this matters, why it has such a drastic impact on the album as a whole, but it does. One shudders to say the word 'maturity' because of the horrible implications that word has accrued over years of muso abuse, but there is a sense of confidence here - a sense that the man with the laptop is delivering the 'fuck you' just as much as the man with the gob. Again, a smart move.
Essentially, with 'Divide And Exit' Sleaford Mods have done what many thought they couldn't: they have progressed their sound without losing an iota of their of-the-moment punk brutality, the thing that makes them so special. I absolutely loved 'Austerity Dogs' but found myself agreeing with the sage voices around me who wondered, justifiably, if their next outing could stand up to the increased expectations and exposure. But this band just keeps getting better.
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