As British society sails into increasingly perilous waters, Sleaford Mods have somehow positioned themselves in the last few years as music’s most cutting commentators. Named after a laughably naff pub menu option, the Nottingham duo’s latest LP English Tapas sees the band evolving in their role as vital everymen, still shooting down the state of the nation with anger and irreverent humour.
English Tapas opens with the quick-step of Army Nights, offering a more subtle version of their minimalist post-punk with Andrew Fearn’s oppressively stark bass and drum beats backing Jason Williamson’s tales of downtrodden, success-hating Englanders: ‘I know the feeling, dickhead, ‘cos I used to be one of them,’ Williamson spits on Just Like We Do. Here, their emphasis deviates away from rants to more focused tales such as the hopeless hedonism of Messy Anywhere while playing more with texture and tempo than previous releases.
It’s in English Tapas’ more timely second half that the album really comes into its own as Williamson laments Brexit as a ‘car-crash into the void of the Magna Carta’ on the gang-chanting Snout, while Drayton Manored’s beeping chorus hook brilliantly sums up alienation by comparing a trip to Spar to a trip to Mars. As Williamson skewers an incompetent Labour opposition, a diminished NME and the cowardly Sir Phillip Green, Fearn finds clever little ways to enrich the Mods’ sound, such as the synth tinkles on the motorik single B.H.S and the haunting closer I Feel So Wrong. The pair have become tender enough that Williamson branches out into full-on singing on the latter, ending English Tapas in an inevitably bleak fashion.
Sleaford Mods are already one of the oddest British bands in this fraught political era. With English Tapas, they continue to push the case that they’re also the most necessary.
Listen to: Snout, B.H.S, Just Like We Do
Buy English Tapas on CD and vinyl via Norman Records