GIVEN the state of the nation, another state-of-the-nation album wouldn’t necessarily be the last thing we all need, but neither would it be particularly welcome.

Musicians have pretty much run out of road in terms of pontificating about Brexit, austerity, class inequality and related subjects, as The Good, The Bad & The Queen’s last drab effort proved. It’d seem as if there was nothing original to say about modern Britain – if it weren’t for Sleaford Mods.

The East Midlands electro-punks are worth listening to because they channel their anger and ennui, not into unconvincing protest songs, but into the most relatable – and entertaining – observations about a life that we can actually recognise.

They’re a political outfit who save the politics for interviews, and reserve the music for cutting jokes, self-deprecation, and a mixture of grim acceptance, defiance, and intentional dislocation from “big” themes. Eton Alive is as much a comedy sketch as an album, and it might be just what you need to hear right now.

York Press:
Eton Alive: "Music of substance and relevance that makes you laugh"

Covering everything from contactless consumerism (Into The Payzone) to reality TV (Kebab Spiders) to reunion acts “who can’t even do three gigs in one go” (Big Burt) to council bin-collection arrangements (Policy Cream), frontman Jason Williamson is as guttural and sneering as ever, with no pretensions to be a craftsman and instead focusing on rasping narration.

But on Eton Alive, he does extend his range, and on the almost-tender When You Come Up To Me and the xylophone-driven Discourse, he’s actually (nearly) singing. This broadened scope is mirrored by the more sophisticated musical backdrop that Andrew Fearn is now creating, such as the doomy synths that drive Top It Up and OBCT. Sleaford Mods may still be minimalist, but they’re also explorative, and there’s a subtly ambitious texture to Eton Alive’s sound that shows this isn’t a one-trick band made complacent by acclaim.

The “new Fall” tag attached to Sleaford Mods is dog-eared, but that doesn’t make it any less appropriate. This is music of substance and relevance that makes you laugh, demonstrating that having a sense of resignation doesn’t mean you can’t do something with it.