Jason Williamson has a voice that can curdle milk and a never ending list of complaints. He delivers his profanity laden manifestos by spitting pure venom at any poor sap who pisses him off. And there are a lot of people who piss him off. Retweeted culls from Sleaford Mods back catalogue with sizable portions of their self-titled LP and 2007’s The Meekon appearing on this large compilation and all of these songs are stacked with miscreants whom Williamson despises. Hipsters, sniveling music executives, prostitutes, and politicians are all shot down in a flood of curses and insults.
It should be noted that Sleaford Mods are an exceptionally polarizing group. The 23 songs found here are mostly made of rusty loops and samples that serve as the decaying background for Williamson’s half-rapped, half-shouted attacks. “I don’t have a soul,” spits Williamson, and it’s the only reason he hasn’t had a full on psychotic episode. He eyes the world wearily, telling the misfortunes that define working class British blues. A bulk of his stories come from the after work daze, somewhere between the first beer and when he’s inevitably kicked out of the bar. On the slow and grating “Graham” Williamson admits “If I had the bollocks I’d completely change…I will rot in this shit hole / Gonna die at young age.” Williamson wheezes his way into “Stevie” and through a haze of cigarettes he flips off a fellow crank who “reads The Independent, who does he think he’s fooling?”
Williamson certainly isn’t fooled by much. Even after chugging enough alcohol to tranquilize a rhino, Williamson sees all, hears all, and judges all. The sprawling, eight minute long “Chop Chop Chop” has him hooking up with an old flame, hanging out with a porn star, and watching the “demise of planet x”. None of it goes well. He dismisses his ex by saying “you need to get out more darling”, after the hook up. The porn star asks if Williamson is “interested in raping young girls on a full nightly basis”. Williamson’s response for a “few nude photos” is disgusting, absurd, and something I won’t spoil. “My Music” is a look into Williamson’s mind during a meeting with some hipster-type that annoys Williamson to an unknowable degree. “You are not obsessed with music, you are obsessed with the idea of being obsessed with music,” Williamson growls.
Sleaford Mods are usually in their own lane, that’s especially true in their early days, when it was just the work of Williamson and engineer Simon Parfrement. But there are a few moments when Retweeted treads into a strange mix of punk and hip-hop, the only two genres that have distinct fingerprints on Sleaford Mods’ sound. The funky “Chaos Down in Soho” is a brisk and catchy tune about the end of the world while “Armitage Shanks” and “Chef’s Omelette” have Williamson at his most rabid. On “Armitage Shanks”, Williamson’s usual yell turns into a harsh bark. “Chef’s Omelette” sounds like a more deranged version of the Clash, with a screamed, and ominous, chorus of “Warships on the…Warships on the…”
Sleaford Mods, at their best, are reminiscent of the Clash: thoroughly British, sharply political, pissed as all hell, and brilliantly quotable. Sleaford Mods make the sound of lower-class outrage that stems from a tough European economy and rising East/West tension. This is the sound of dead cities in a dying empire.
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