JASON Williamson and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods aren’t your archetypal rock ‘n’ roll stars and neither do they intend to be; their role is to be beacons of defiance among an engulfing sea of mediocrity and nonchalance. Rejecting any refinement of their sound as they’ve progressed up the ladder, the Nottingham-based outfit have returned with the charged Key Markets, one of their most impressive collections to date.

Setting out with a rousing and fervent chant of the band’s moniker which works to epitomise how passionately many fans feel about this outlandish and outspoken duo, the Gang of Four style eruption of bass and drums that are the musical focal point of ‘Live Tonight’ soon burst into life.

Lyricist Jason Williamson’s harsh critiques of modern day life shine from the very first utterance, philosophising about things as mundane as ‘public walkways’ and ‘the pub next to church’ in the most animated way that any human possibly could.

It’s chant-along chorus appears to allude to the never ending slog of touring that the band is now all too familiar with, proclaiming that they’re “live tonight, every night” in a disdainful and weary fashion.

Williamson also uses this opening gambit to firmly implant the cruel nature of the lives of the working class into the listener’s psyche at a time in which the government does so via austerity and constant cutbacks which only strengthen the weight of his pessimistic viewpoint.

Spouting the all too familiar adage of “work till you die, Sunday apple pie”, this line is a summation of the cyclical way that generations of British families live: spending the majority of their fleeting time on the planet with their nose pressed to the grindstone only to be rewarded with paltry treats and cheap thrills during another meaningless weekend.

Continuing along the same lines as the rhetoric of the opening track, Williamson and bandmate Andrew Fearn get straight to the point on the outrage filled ‘No One’s Bothered.’  Decrying the apathy of the modern world and the manner in which the tribulations faced by many are left unresolved, the track’s aesthetic lands somewhere between Sham 69, Bad Brains and the sparse musical output of John Cooper Clarke.

Wailing sirens usher in the arrival of ‘Bronx In A Six’, an aural assault which veers from being an unrelenting assault on middle class greed to downright hysterical. Built on a base of steadfast yet brooding guitar from Fearn, it enables Williamson to exude a combination of absurdity that would rival an early Wu Tang Clan skit and the righteous anger of Joe Strummer at his most perturbed. Mocking the man who “Sits alone with all his plastic and nice painted plates” as well as proclaiming that he’ll “tie your veins round your vans limited edition”, it’s clear that the band are in mood to do anything by half measures on this latest release.

The lolloping, borderline danceable sound of ‘Silly Me’ seems somewhat more sedate despite the continuously vitriolic nature of the lyricism within, whilst ‘Cunt Make It Up’ and its industrial style percussion sounds like the evil twin of Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip’s earlier endeavours.

‘Face To Faces’ acts as a tremendously engaging indictment of the nation’s archaic welfare system in which screeds and screeds of red tape and bureaucracy must be waded through just to attain the means to survive.

Drawing from his own experiences as a benefits adviser, it sees Williamson spewing venom in reference to the patronising and demeaning process of claiming assistance from an unsympathetic government (“Free money, mate, just fill in the form and if you can’t then I can help you”) and unleashing an absolutely glorious diatribe against former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg (“Nick Clegg wants another chance, really? This daylight robbery is now so fucking hateful it’s completely accepted by the vast majority.”)

The gloominess of ‘Arabia’ is accented by its faintly glitchy beat before an unexpectedly adept singing performance from Williamson adds to the bizarreness of it all; although the momentum soon returns with the frantically paced ‘In Quiet Streets’, on which Williamson comes across as nothing short of a man possessed as he muses on the inherent untrustworthiness of Westminster’s MP’s and how little Britain has come along since the downtrodden days of the 70’s.

With Williamson borderline crooning in his wholly distinctive drawl, ‘Tarantula Deadly Cargo’ instantaneously registers as one of their more ‘accessible’ tracks to date. Delivered in the kind of charming style that gives birth to comparisons to Ian Dury and a slew of others, Fearn’s minimal ye resounding production style impresses to a great degree on this composition.

The ominous, new wave style bassline of ‘Rupert Trousers’ seems delightfully at odds with Williamson’s relatively staid delivery as he takes aim at the upper class pursuits of Alex James and Dave Rowntree of Blur and the ingrained snobbery of British society.

Yes, it may be dreary listening for those who utilise music as an escape route as opposed to a vehicle of truth; but in times such as these it’s essential that musicians speak out against such overwhelming indifference towards the dire straits that are faced by entirely too many. In an era in which bands are all too fond of empty sentiment and the industry is rife with poseurs, it’s refreshing to see a band such as Sleaford Mods deliver their message in such a succinct and upfront manner.

The chemistry between the duo clearly yields some fantastic results and this new anthology of disenchantment stands side by side; and perhaps even a few rungs above, their most indispensible to have emerged thus far.