Image: Tom Lund
On first listen, English Tapas straight up confirms, with conviction, that the growing buzz surrounding Nottingham’s Sleaford Mods is wholly justified. A listen or two later, it becomes abundantly clear how far ahead Williamson and Fearn are of the rest. ‘The rest’, because the duo really have no contemporaries. Sleaford Mods is its own entity, forging its own course – and the brand new LP cements the growing notion that it is the most exciting beast in British music today.
While providing another craved injection of the Mods’ trademark brand of socially aware electro-rap, English Tapas goes a step further in highlighting the small, yet satisfying tweaks the duo have implemented to their unique sound. Masterfully contained within an ever-explosive collection of politically frustrated tirades is a clear penchant for genuinely melodic songcraft, as was mapped out in the appetiser T.C.R. EP of last year. The groove-based, almost (dare I say) poppy ‘Messy Anywhere’ boasts a funky layer of backing vocals, typifying the infectious confidence that just oozes from English Tapas. It is a collection of tracks that simply demand you hit repeat.
Fearn continues to rattle out moody basslines that perfectly underpin Williamson’s chracteristic vocal manner, seemingly with ease. But that’s what we’ve come to expect from Sleaford Mods. The most compelling thing about the new LP, is that it’s edging closer to dance crossover than post-punk. The fantastic number of inventive drum loops and hypnotic bass-work, displayed on earlier works with the likes of ‘The Blob’ and ‘I Can Tell’, is particularly refreshing. Basically, a remix album would be something special. The groove of ‘Time Sands’, for one, is pure filth.
But don’t think for a moment the Mods’ invigorated sonic evolution comes at the expense of lyrical gun-powder. Not a chance. Williamson serves up a lethal quantity of damning social commentary throughout, attacking established order, obnoxious pretenders and as usual, whoever the fuck he wants.
We’re going down like B.H.S. while the able bodied vultures monitor and pick at us…
I don’t give a fuck what you did back in the day / what you’re doing now is useless, you just drink too much, mate. Funny how fucking England hates any success…
With English Tapas, Sleaford Mods have once again rejected the now typical studio album followed by two year tour formula. Instead, they offer a much more immediate, culturally relevant alternative that’s never in danger of stagnation. The Nottingham duo provide an unrivalled product that captures regular snap shots of British society from a seemingly birds eye view – always complemented by inventive minimalist soundscapes. With an undying ethos and work ethic, as well as the backing of legendary independent label Rough Trade, Sleaford Mods appear relentless. Ironically, the only saving grace of these increasingly volatile times is that Jason Williamson will never run out of political crises to savagely dissect.