Over the last decade, Sleaford Mods have repeatedly proven that they are a vital voice in the British landscape, a trait in which they have once again repeated on the triumphant new record Spare Ribs. Their ability to paint a genuine picture of British life – not the quaint manufactured one that you see in Richard Curtis films – but the mundanity and the self-regarding attitude that permeates our nation sets the band apart from the rest and, in turn, creates a more worthwhile connection.
What makes Jason Williamson such a breath of fresh air when it comes to his lyricism is the dynamic nature of his delivery and the originality of his words, feeling at once both poetic and universal. Equally, Andrew Fearn’s industrial beats are charged and raring to let themselves loose along a disused market street. Together, they continue to be a perfect match for one another. Williamson’s witty social commentary pokes fun at the mooing stereotypes of people from all across society. Nobody is off the hook from Williamson’s wrath, whether this is middle-class folk from the Cotswolds on ‘Nudge It’, or those who blame foreigners for their failings on ‘Out There’.
The record title is another masterclass in itself from the Nottingham duo, one which encapsulates the nihilistic attitude that oozes out of the record. Spare Ribs, as Jason Williamson previously summarised, is “much like the human body can still survive without a full set of ribs we are all ‘spare ribs’, preservation for capitalism, through ignorance and remote rule, available for parts.”
The tone is set for the record masterfully on the outlier ‘The New Brick’. This 44-second introduction sees a solemn Williamson deliver a sample of what lies in store for the listener before the record erupts into the ferocious ‘Shortcummings’. The album opener also operates as a way of separating those on board with Sleaford Mods and those who aren’t, if the track entices you in then you’ve got one hell of a treat in store. However, if the song doesn’t land with you, then Williamson and Fearn’s world probably is one you’ll find difficult, a universe with barriers of fear to stop the disenchanted listener.
‘Elocution’ features Williamson at his piss-taking best when he dons a mock posh accent, the kind that requires your teeth don’t touch when speaking, to ridicule the well-to-do and, in his view, insincere indie bands. Quipping: “Hello there, I’m here today to talk about the importance of independent venues and also secretly hoping by agreeing to talk about the importance of independent venues, I will then be in a position to move away from playing independent venues.”
Singles ‘Mork’ N’ Mindy’ and ‘Nudge It’ see Sleaford Mods experiment with the art of collaboration by bringing Billy Nomates and Amy Taylor of Amyl and the Sniffers aboard, both of which are acquisitions that juxtapose finely with Williamson’s snarls and bring an extra ingredient to the record.
‘Thick Ear’ and ‘I Don’t Rate You’ are another two fiery tracks that see the duo emerge from their dusty saloons with all guns blazing, firing at will and lighting up the latter part of the record with a hail of unruly gunfire of songs. ‘Fishcakes’ then ends the album with a final look at post-Brexit Britain and the bleak future that lay ahead. As Williamson paints a vivid picture of the all-too-familiar sight of a run-down town, it’s hard not to hear the sorrow in his voice.
If you like Sleaford Mods, then Spare Ribs is a cathartic antidote for these times and hearing Williamson vent about the frustrations shared by plenty of us is a joy from start to finish. At a time when meeting your mates down the pub to chat shite over a pint, lose oneself in an argument or find some solace in friends is further and further away, meeting up with Sleaford Mods is about as close as you can get.
Sleaford Mods have delivered another much-needed dose of social commentary that has come at a much needed time. If Sleaford Mods pose themselves as ‘too political’ or perhaps even too aggressive and have therefore neglected the band thus far, we’d suggest you leave the album well alone. This is Sleaford Mods on their A-game and, frankly, they don’t care who stands in their way.
Order your physical copy of Spare Ribs here, and stream the record below.