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Sleaford Mods – Chubbed Up: The Singles Collection


Sleaford Mods – Chubbed UpAt the start of Lautréamont’s Maldoror, the disclaimer suggests: “This is not for you” and this is where I find myself with Sleaford Mods. I like this album, find it witty and funny and I’ve always liked The Fall and it’s not as annoying as Renegade Soundwave but… this isn’t for me. I feel wrong listening to it, feel like I’m inevitably going to like it in the wrong way. Now, I’m not about to suggest that you have to be there (and be in there) to get Sleaford Mods – this is a work of art, after all, and requires imagination, a certain amount of retroscending – but there’s something about all their releases (I joined with most of the rest of you, at Austerity Dogs) that feels overwhelmingly authentic. These guys don’t seem like they’re acting up; the invective feels (sometimes) uncomfortably real. This is like an insight into a parallel, equally real British life of which I only have documentary access to.

I’ve been on the dole but that was in Brighton and I was play-living with a beautiful girl and we had a seaside apartment paid for via housing benefit and we did voluntary work with mentally-injured kids and depressed adults and evening classes in art history and browsed second-hand bookshops and delayed the inevitable entrance into society – she’s now a primary teacher, I’m a lecturer in philosophy. I had a Crass poster (I eventually put it in a frame) and I’m still angry about politics and ethics and on and on but my world isn’t the world of the Sleaford Mods. There’s nothing inevitable about their stories; they weren’t always going to make their entrance into polite society (ironically, perhaps, they have but that’s another review, later down the line) and everytime I listen to it on my iPod ™ (and I listen a lot because it’s really good) I find myself smirking and then I feel a bit ashamed, as if I’m peering into someone else’s reality and finding it amusing (even as I write this I can see Joe Pesci in Goodfellas, full of hopping gin and bile).

Chubbed Up doesn’t seem a million miles away from the kind of poverty porn that gets up everyone’s noses; you don’t feel like sneering at Sleaford Mods but you don’t feel like you’re in on the joke either because you’re really not. Fuck knows, we need someone to yell at the establishment and it’s telling that there’s occasional echoes / samples of The Specials in here since this is the “Ghost Town” we’ve been needing for decades now (where were they during the riots? Perhaps rioting.) but at no point does this feel like my yell and the lack of answers for me falls into the same pits of despair as NWA et al. It’s fun for others to be so full of bile and there’s real poetry to the froth and fury but… this is not for me; I start reviews with possibly misremembered lines from Maldoror.

I’m over-personalising this. I know that. I can hardly relate to Mark E Smith and it hasn’t stopped me listening to The Fall but it’s a feeling I find it hard to shake, a sense of making myself an unwelcome voyeur. I’m not even completely sure that it’s meant to be funny and then I think I see the joke that that’s exactly what Sleaford Mods are all about, making people like me genuflect themselves into a class-ic knot and then I think that’s just my spin on it and in fact they are deadly serious and then I flip again and think maybe they are being ironic and it’s like those girls who pretended to be down and out and selling their blowjobs for crack who somehow manage to do all this whilst maintaining regular blog entries. I just don’t know. If it’s okay that this is funny then it’s really funny.


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