Sleaford Mods are making electronica the protest music of Cameron’s Britain

Whatever you might think about the musical prowess or artistic vibrancy of Sleaford Mods, one thing’s for sure… they give a shit.

At a time when the political spectrum of the UK very much mirrors the desperate and down-trodden, almost regimented and intended social decay that took place during Thatcher’s Britain, there are very few in the music business showing the slightest bit of will to do anything about it.

Back in the 80s, hugely popular artists like The Clash, The Specials and The Smiths put their balls and commercial profitability on the line at the height of their powers by making a real and direct lyrical stand against the drudgery and downright injustice of Tory rule.

But this time around those wielding guitars are either scared, apathetic, or more intent on dealing with (or in fact running away from) the country’s problems through the medium of psych-tinged, reverb-drowned escapism. Now as any keen readers will know, we love psychedelia in all its facets here at Far Out, but does it scream social and political change? More of the same will not do.

Enter Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn aka Sleaford Mods. This Nottinghamshire duo are on everyone’s lips at the moment.

Admittedly, their own brand of angular beats, 8-bit gameboy production and post-punk backing tracks are unlikely to storm the Radio 1 breakfast show any time soon, and we can sure see why it might not be for your ears during a solace-fuelled, after-work wind-down – but recent collaborations with 90s rave gurus like The Prodigy and Leftfield could well help spread their message to a usually oblivious audience through a more palatable medium.

And power to the likes of Liam Howlett and Neil Barnes for ensuring that the new music they release is voiced by a potency and anger against the crazed establishment that the indie chart toppers of the moment refuse to approach, or in many cases even think about.

What are Alt-J, Arctic Monkeys or The Vaccines going to do about Williamson’s recent piece of advice he delivered via a Guardian interview to “go and write a fucking decent song that says something about the state we’re in instead of buying into all this rock aristocracy bullshit”? Unfortunately, probably not a great deal.

So… with the indie porn boys more interested in perfecting their haircuts, has a genre of dance music that started out as the ultimate form of escapism amid the second summer of love and the rise of ecstasy become the most focused and direct political voice in modern British culture?

If Sleaford Mods continue their trajectory as the leading popularised embodiment and most enraged reactionary force around for the disenfranchised, it certainly looks that way. How the tables have turned.

Is it now the case that any guitar music that breaks the mainstream must fit the bill of throw-away folly to provide a back-drop to thick-rimmed glasses and designer beards sipping £4.50 pale ale down the gentrified indie disco of a Friday night? Depressingly, perhaps.

This is by no means a proclamation that Sleaford Mods are our generation’s most musically iconic phenomenon, nor that they are the only ones speaking out. Rather, it’s a plea for those from the world of rock ‘n’ roll to be more proactive in emulating their ethos. A little more rock and a little less roll is what we’re crying out for right now.

Patrick Davies

Watch the new video for ‘Head and Shoulders’ by Leftfield feat. Sleaford Mods below.

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