Sleaford Mods should, by now, have exhausted all witty metaphors and sarcastic rage on contemporary Britain. However, with a new post-Brexit backdrop and a poisonous UKIP climate, Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn have returned with their ninth album, complete with more topical and outspoken criticisms than ever before. If their previous 2015 album, Key Markets was a lead up to the EU Referendum, then English Tapas is a blunt, social commentary on the English identity and the pantomime of washed-up Britain.
Williamson denies that he is a spokesman for Brexit but it is impossible to ignore his stinging representations of the government and his anger for the alienation of the working class. Since the release of their self-titled debut album in 2007, Sleaford Mods have been serving uncensored and unapologetic rants of capitalism and poverty. Who said punk was dead when ‘Moptop’, a tale of greedy PR’s, parallels ‘EMI’ by the Sex Pistols while the lyrics of elitism and fascism in ‘Snout’ is reminiscent of ‘God Save the Queen’?
Nobody is safe from Williamson’s relentless mocking in ‘Dull’ from the NME, Bernie Winters to Ringo Starr. With its sensationalised trends and hyperbolic headlines, Williamson taunts the magazine: “Try scrolling down a website, the NME, without laughing. I’ll give you ten quid if you can keep a straight face”. Over a basic bassline, Williamson’s repetitive barks of, “Dull” drums into the listener’s head how, “work[ing] like fuck” and “spending your life on fucking porno” has made British life so mundane and soulless.
“Pretentious little bastard on social medias”, he snaps in ‘Just Like We Do’ could be a reference to their twitter battle with indie upcomers, Blossoms last year in which Sleaford Mods criticised them for sounding like, “Savage Garden, with a little bit of shit in it”. It wasn’t exactly Blur versus Oasis but Blossoms attempted to fight back by calling Williamson, “Gramps”. Blossoms will have to try a lot harder than that to win against someone with insults such as, “The Labour Party is a three-quid tube of vending machine smarties” in ‘Carlton Touts’.
‘B.H.S’ recalls the depressing tale of Britain’s crumbling department store in which lyrics such as, “The abled bodied vultures monitor and pick at us” are direct metaphors for Sir Phillip Green. The buzzing bassline acts as a complimentary backdrop for Williamson’s snarls to take center stage. This raw and basic approach fits the gloomy mood of the song in which the music video shows a rich business man on a yacht surrounded by council houses and boarded up shops. “We aren’t going to suddenly wake up tomorrow morning and everything’s going to be ok so the music and lyrics that I write will reflect that,” explained Williamson.
However, Sleaford Mods are in for a little competition with the likes of fresh, politically-fuelled bands such as the taboo-breaking, Cabbage and subtle world criticism from Goat Girl. However, who better to trust to criticise our country than someone who has worked in the collapsing retail chains and who has seen poverty face-to-face as a Benefits Advisor. Sleaford Mods have been round the Nottingham block more than a few times to interpret what is wrong with our country. English Tapas isn’t just an album it is a rallying cry against unemployment, poverty and politics and it needs to be heard.