Sleaford Mods capture the spirit of their times with blunt eloquence. Andrew Fearn's minimalistic, intentionally cheap-sounding loops, guitars, and keyboards provide a fitting backdrop as Jason Williamson rants about politics, injustice, and pop culture with outrage, scathing humor, and, every so often, rough-edged poignancy. The duo's first officially released albums, which included 2014's Divide and Exit, quickly won acclaim for its brash sounds and words. Later efforts such as 2017's English Tapas were more somber, underscoring the reality of Sleaford Mods' subject matter.
Sleaford Mods began in 2006 as the recording project of Nottingham vocalist and musician Jason Williamson. A former session musician with Spiritualized and the electronic duo Bent, Williamson spent the first few years of the project working out Sleaford Mods' aggressive, no-nonsense, blue-collar sound in the studio and at occasional gigs, where he would rap over pre-recorded beats and samples. After relocating to London for a while, he returned to Nottingham, and in 2009, met Andrew Fearn, a veteran musician who was DJ'ing at the time. The two joined forces in 2010, with Fearn taking on most of the backing tracks, freeing up Williamson to further evolve as a vocalist and lyricist. Their first recorded collaboration was on the CD-R Wank, which appeared in 2012. Their minimalist combination of either lo-fi drum machine beats or live drums mixed with pounding bass guitar and Williamson's ranting wordplay set the tone that would define the band's sound.
Sleaford Mods' 2013 album, Austerity Dogs, their first proper label release and first to receive widespread distribution. The album was critically well-received, and Sleaford Mods' reputation and profile were raised significantly as they toured the U.K. and Europe. Their follow-up album, Divide and Exit, was released in April 2014. That October, the previously digital-only singles collection Chubbed Up, was given a physical release with three bonus tracks. The following month the duo capped off a triumphant 2014 with the Tiswas EP, which expanded on the Divide and Exit cut with previously unreleased tracks. Along with Prodigy and Leftfield collaborations, Sleaford Mods began work on a new album. Key Markets, which took its name from a grocery store in Williamson's hometown of Grantham, was inspired by "the disorientation of modern existence" and arrived in July 2015. That year also saw the release of Invisible Britain, a documentary that followed the band's U.K. tour prior to the 2015 General Election. In 2016, the duo signed to Rough Trade, which released the T.C.R. EP that October and the full-length English Tapas (named for a menu item Fearn saw at a pub) in early 2017. A self-titled EP inspired in part by social media outbursts, paranoia, and depression arrived the following September. For their next album the duo parted ways with their label Rough Trade. Eton Alive was instead put out through their own Extreme Eating label in 2018 and the 12-track collection was recorded in Nottingham.