Divide and Exit
Pure punk music. Something that, in this suffocatingly safe, modern landscape, is just all too rare — either derailed with a lo-fi jangle, an overt sense of pop-awareness or a small hint of apprehension. Of course, there's a billion conflicting definitions of that label/genre/classification in itself, but in this particular instance I'm speaking solely of that unshakable defiance. That specific tone and attitude. The glazed-over look in the eyes, unfazed by the external judgement and internal imperfections. Purposefully attempting the unsettling associations of confrontation. All that feeling, that's what's important here. The disfigured delivery mechanism is purely secondary.
Which brings into focus the guitar-smashing elephant in the room. Where are the attributes that we normally associate with punk music? I'm not specifically talking of the mo-hawks, faux-hawks, face staples and leather accessories, but this isn't really anything like the bastard cousin of "rock and roll" — that untrained dropout, hell-bent on replicating that John Rotten template we've now finally become comfortable with. Urgh.
Sleaford Mods probably wouldn't justify all those compartmentalised pre-conceptions with an answer, instead most likely responding with a well-timed head-butt to your brain, causing an inevitable cranium back lobe bounce, causing some much-needed disruption to your misguided, pigeon-hole classification system.
Because, of course, it's just the tone that matters. The musical style here — mostly just minimal looped electronic beats — is rigid and sterile. All sparse and rushed, created purely as a requirement. A probable assumption given the weighted balance in favour of frontman Jason Williamson's lyrics, which are spat out as economical quips from the confines of a proud, blue-collar dialect, forming as either concise sketches of a specific scene ("big mirror, lumps of drugs"), slang tourette spurts ("Weetabix, England, fucking shredded wheat, Kellogg's cunts") or incomplete jabs of political activism ("I can't believe the rich still exist"). Each quotable line is isolated and equally valued. Delivered with a seemingly unshakeable sense of conviction, part of a methodical stream of endless, recalcitrant punches.
Divide and Exit isn't solely reliant on this lyrical forthrightness, but more it's ideal balance of wit and aggression. Every unsettlingly blunt line dissecting the unbalanced British class system is counteracted by an equally memorable day-in-the-life picture of ridicule or sentence of self-depreciation often within the same train of thought. On You're Brave, Williamson swiftly darts from humorously crude one-liners ("wanked in the toilet, you fooking tit rifle") to more poignant statements of society's inevitable implosion ("when it turns black then the realization will change that party face"), before closing out with an affirmed declaration which lands somewhere between these two endpoints ("Chumbawamba weren't political, they were just crap").
All these random lyrical snippets might make it all seem like utter nonsense. A position amplified further by the record's own self-reliance on localised slang ("give us a tinkle on the rattlin' Joanna mate") which, from this outside-of-Britain perspective, could sway the entire sound dangerously close to "novelty" territory. But it's that overall rough aesthetic that's the album's primary saviour. This is a record held together by nothing more than an illegally cracked version of Fruity Loops v0.1, some rolls of duct-tape and a journal of random thoughts scribbled down during the course of a day. It's crude, temporary and, above all, honest. Intransigent towards the current manufactured attempts at perfecting music. Void of any annoying sense of self-awareness or attempts to shape itself for external expectations. Just press play and roll. This is music on it's own terms. This is creativity naturally spawned from it's own habitat, an unfair Tory-governed imbalance and the class-imprisonment that defines that life. This is punk music.