When you consider the sheer number of songs that Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn have penned over the years as Sleaford Mods, it’s an arrestingly large body of work.
Yet this number is all the more startling given the supremely limited development that takes place. Granted, the main focus of Sleaford Mods is social commentary and general observation, so perhaps that growth should come from the world around them; yet at this point, it all feels a bit samey, even down to the pun-based title of Eton Alive.
With everyone around them, both targets and peers, continually developing or at least experimenting, you’d have thought the Mods would’ve tried a taste of the future, but it would seem there’s very little that takes their fancy apart from flailing their explicit wit around - which, to be fair, is as sharp as ever. There’s maybe a danger that everyone will just move on without them, and that’s not to say they wouldn’t have made their mark; there’s undoubtedly a post-punk work ethic that’s followed the duo through with their brutalist, roots-approach to music, but it feels like the fighting dogs are beginning to lie down.
The industrialised, ever-looping canvas that’s always backed the ranting rhetoric is as it always has been on Eton Alive. “When You Come Up To Me” is the only notable exception the rule that Sleaford have created for themselves, creating a spine of electro-tinged beats around more melodic delivery from Williamson. But at what point do they become dependable like clockwork? Surely the excitement that first surrounded them should now be turning to concern; being outspoken in a world where it’s so easy to do so isn’t as impressive as it once was.
Take lines like “Graham Coxon looks like a left-wing Boris Johnson” - are these unsubstantiated ramblings, or political savvy on “Flipside”? Therein lies the true genius behind Sleaford Mods' nonsense filled, expletive-laden career; the reason it makes sense is that the world is even more ridiculous than their work. But like the soundtrack to a rave in the deepest darkest parts of our country, the beat may go on, but the sun's coming up and people are starting to go home.