Sleaford Mods: “English Tapas” Album Review

Written By: Ethan Griggs

My Music:

Sleaford Mods may very well be the most British sounding band ever, and I’m not just saying that in regards to the almost laughably thick Midlands accent of rapper/poet/singer Jason Williamson. Along with producer Andrew Fearn, the Nottingham duo also creates a Euro-friendly blend of subdued post punk and a type of rap that at times dissolves completely into spoken word, but their roots go as far back as their name does: back to the days when greasers and rockers ruled the streets and The Who were getting close to dominating the airwaves. First coming into serious international visibility with their 2014 effort Divide and Exit and then furthering that momentum with the Mercury-Prize-nominated Key Markets the following year, this band has had to deal with pre-Brexit tension caused by Britain’s austere economics, and on the newly released English Tapas they dissent into post-Brexit depression.

Fearn’s production on the record is some of his most aurally catching since joining the band in 2012. Often in the same song, there will be dark guitars and brisk drumbeats before something more urban and modern comes along. Synth patches are all over this record but they don’t stand out in the way that they do in typical pop music – it often comes unexpectedly to the listener. It’s clear that the success of their single “T.C.R.” off their EP of the same name released in-between Markets and Tapas has certainly influenced their newest sound, especially on tracks like “B.H.S.”. Williamson’s musical role has also increased dramatically in that he is singing more on this record than he has on his previous works.

The sound and the singing, however, only come second to the dense lyrical content of the album. Williamson is furious with the results of Britain’s referendum. One would think that “Moptop” would be celebratory nod to the duo’s influence, but adjective use of “blond” suggest that he is talking about Boris Johnson, Britain’s Minister of Parliament. “I’m sick of what I tell you for note/I’m saying fucking sorry to the catalogue vote/Having to be a bit naff and inclined/When all I really wanted was to batter and blind”, exclaims Williamson on the track. He seems like he is tired of being a political voice of reason in times of uncertainty. He continually plays around with and defies the purpose of a “flow” in rap music and interchanges it with iambic qualities of good old-fashioned poetry. English Tapas will rank among the finest of art-punk albums released this decade.