Published Feb 19, 2019The target of Sleaford Mods' disdain becomes clear as soon as vocalist Jason Williamson proclaims, "Graham Coxon looks like a left-wing Boris Johnson."
Rather than reporting realities from the Midlands in austerity-stricken Britain, Eton Alive focuses squarely on hierarchies. All establishments — celebrity activism, politicians and pay walls — sit in the path of the Mods' acerbic wit.
Instrumentally, this record doesn't do anything revelatory that distinguishes it from their other releases. However, in maintaining their usual glitchy post-punk instrumentals with this clearer lyrical concept, the duo emphasize the emptiness of the automated economy.
Opener, "Into the Payzone," with its repetition of "touch card," renders the daily cycle of instantaneous transactions unfamiliar. The duo's retro synth tones become more prescient in the wake of scathing lyrics that decry the superficiality of the world around them.
Defeat is a prominent theme throughout. On "Top It Up," Williamson places prominent brands — "Lyle and Scott, Adidas" — next to images of masculinized pub culture, as well as death, exposing the vacuous interactions around him. The misanthropic lyrics, littered with fragmented imagery, are delivered with resignation. The various hierarchies these middle-aged men have uncovered are unassailable.
While the Mods' humorous lyrics often mask the unclenching reality of their reportage, Eton Alive is a blunt album, which speaks to distorted realities. In almost a decade of crippling austerity, and in the midst of democratic collapse in Britain, Sleaford Mods are one of the most important political acts in the world, whether they like it or not. (Independent)