Music Reviews


SLEAFORD MODS sleaford_mods_english_tapas_grande
The Mods first release for Rough Trade

Andrew Fern walked into a pub and saw “English Tapas” scrawled on the menu board. The components of this dish were: half a scotch egg, a cup of chips, a pickle and a mini pork pie. “It says everything about this fucking place. It’s comedy, it’s make do, it’s ignorant and, above all, it’s shit.”

Sleaford Mods rise has been slow and steady, built on word of mouth rather than spin. English Tapas is their first album on Rough Trade – almost a major label in terms of clout. The album cover has a view from the gutter, staring up at the band as though they had just knocked you down with their aural assault. Beyond them is just the void.

They mix rap and mod culture to create something that is both universal and very English. Jason Williamson provides the venom, spitting out his attacks against all and sundry. His first person narratives, as on the opening track Army Nights, of the underclass are both funny and frightening. The music, often undervalued, is provided by Andrew Fern. The music sets the body swaying amongst detritus strewn high streets, abandoned by shops, and given over to dog shit and dog ends. It’s a dark underbelly rhythm to Williamson’s words.

Those words are always on the verge of tipping over into so much anger that the poetry collapses into profanity. As he chants on Snout: Rubbing up to the crown and the flag and the notion of who we are…Fuck off! And then there’s the surreal and commonplace: The future is a flag pissed on in a king size bag of Quavers. The terrible isolation and abandonment of modern Britain is described as: Human beings are just adjacent lines, like a Tube map, or whatever, a mass of lines that occasionally cross each other but never say anything ever.

It’s not all vitriol, there is introspection too on tracks like Time Sands and I Feel So Wrong.

They are the chroniclers of a life in Britain as lived by the majority. A life of mostly tedium, alleviated by the inertia of fags, booze and cheap drugs; of repression and suppression and a nostalgia for an illusory past of a Heritage England.

Sleaford Mods are the saviours of rock, and they aren’t even a rock band.

This review first appeared in Louder Than War magazine issue 8.



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