Album Review: English Tapas, Sleaford Mods

Truth-speaking rants from the laureates of Brexit Britain.

In this age of Brexit, deep-fried American fascism and the ongoing global shitstorm in which we are all to one degree or another submerged, Sleaford Mods may well be the band we need and deserve. The rough ‘n’ ready duo from the English Midlands deliver searing truths in guttural quasi-chants, the energetic ranting upholstered with beats so tinny they might be dribbling from the speakers of a 10 year-old Nokia.

On ‘Army Nights’, frontman Jason Williamson – it would be an overstatement to describe his gruff yelps as singing – splices fever-dream imagery and pretend fart-sounds. It’s a striking juxtaposition, the frontman blending zeal and humour, political outrage and scatological clowning to impressive effect.

His playful anger has the perfect launch pad in Andrew Fearn’s tinfoil grooves, which clitter and clatter impishly, as Williamson swerves from irreverent to incoherent to occasionally incandescent. It is all part of the grand Sleaford design.

Rage is all well and good, but as we venture deeper into the the duo’s labyrinthine dissection of austerity Britain – or, more accurately, austerity England – the lights dim and darkness takes over. The wealth gap that divides the 21st century UK is excoriated on recent single ‘BHS’, named after the defunct British high street chain, while ‘Moptop’ and ‘Messy Anywhere’ raise inchoate fury to performance art.

This is just about as far from easy listening as you are likely to get. English Tapas is a ragged, difficult album – but one that is illuminated by a mightily impressive righteousness, allied to a fine way with words. There are zany moments and much that is unintelligible, at least at this early stage of getting to know the album – yet Williamson’s moral force is powerful and unyielding. As we contemplate the impending apocalypse, that makes it well worth cherishing.

 

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