Sleaford Mods - English Tapas - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Sleaford Mods - English Tapas

by Andy Brown Rating:8 Release Date:2017-03-03

Zero hour contracts, food banks, tax avoidance, Brexit and the permanent shadow of death that is the Conservative government. English Tapas, the latest output from Sleaford Mods, is very much an album about and created by the times we live in. Of course there’s nothing particularly new about rampant inequality, successive governments have provided this kind of inspiration for as long as anyone can remember. The nineteen-eighties gave us Thatcher and Reagan while this year has spawned the likes of Theresa and Trump. Oh, the joy.

Yes, it may be a cliché and an over-simplification to say so but hard times often create great art. An album by Sleaford Mods isn’t something to be hung in a gallery and picked apart by the intellectual ‘elite’ though. It’s something to soundtrack the frustration, anger, hedonism and humour of everyday life in 2017. It’s a riot of insults and observations; the sound of one man yelling at the uninterrupted stream of shite that is BBC News.

This isn’t studious political commentary, rather the emotional response to the clusterfuck of right-wing bias and corruption that is the modern world. Not that it’s all doom-and-gloom in the world of Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn, there’s also a few fart jokes and a particularly intoxicated trip to the local Spa to brighten the corners of English Tapas.

Sleaford Mods have stuck valiantly to their guns since emerging from relative obscurity with Austerity Dogs in 2013, their first album for the Harbinger Sound label. Williamson still rants and rages his way through each song while Fearn’s music remains propulsive and brutal in its use of minimalistic beats and repetition. Each album has built on the duos strengths, subtly evolving and refining their signature sound without compromising those factors that brought them to our attention in the first place.

Williamson remains one of the most distinctive, angry and genuinely funny lyricists we have, with every listen highlighting a new lyric or turn of phrase. He takes aim at everyone and everything, railing against stupidity in all its forms. Sometimes there’s a particular target in mind, such as the “pretentious little bastards” of ‘Just like we do’ or the image of Philip Green swanning around on his boat on the anthemic ‘B.H.S’. It’s far from straight ahead commentary though, with Williamson adding a hefty dose of humour and surrealism into each new tirade.

Fearn’s music remains impressively diverse within the parameters the duo has set for themselves, with well-placed samples (the checkout on the superb ‘Drayton Manored’) accompanying the usual mix of head-nodding and occasionally funky bass lines. ‘Time Sands’ is a particular highlight; its slow, languorous groove perfectly complementing Williamson’s tale of paranoia, heartbreak and “plastic handbag brains”.

Sleaford Mods aren’t the kind of band to attempt a grand, definitive statement; what we have here is simply the latest annual report. The Mods remain a unique proposition; strange, angry, intelligent, occasionally hilarious and undeniably vital. English Tapas ends with one of the bands catchiest moments and a song that sums up the grotty, horrible feeling that filters through much of the album- the aptly titled ‘I Feel So Wrong’.

There are undoubtedly too many lyrical highlights to go over them all here but I’ll leave you with my current favourite from the excellent ‘Snout’:

“How dare I slam the uniform of the working class/ condemn me please you wanker/ to life inside a working glass/ like a spider/ suffocated to death for a fucking fiver/ by scared kids/ like scared kids/ ‘cos that’s all you are/ rubbing up to the crown and the flag and the notion of who we are”

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

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