** 1/2 THE GODFATHERS. "Birth, School, Work, Death." Epic. As the title indicates, things are pretty grim in the world of the Godfathers, an English quintet making its big-label American debut. But with its musical and lyrical connections to such mid-'60s Mod heroes as the Who and their punk-era counterparts the Jam (though without the soul roots of either), this group provides a fairly exhilarating representation of the dead ends of working-class London. Unfortunately for the Godfathers, a similar form of rock 'n' roll rhetoric is being practiced much more inventively by That Petrol Emotion. Still, the energy and directness of songs like the title tune and "It's So Hard" are something to be prized. But you'd hope for a bit more humor from a group whose founders (singer Peter Coyne and his bassist brother Chris) once anchored an outfit called the Sid Presley Experience.