tue 30/05/2023

Album: Sleaford Mods - Spare Ribs | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Sleaford Mods - Spare Ribs

Album: Sleaford Mods - Spare Ribs

A searing scream in the face of Boris, the virus and the shit show that is 2020s Britain

Nice artwork, no?

What’s all this? Female voices, guitars, a song lasting over four minutes… harmonies? Have Britain’s savviest social commentators gone soft? Fear not, their sixth album is wall-to-wall uncomfortable sleaziness, biting observation and bruising belittlements.

If anyone is equipped to document the horrors of the last year on plague island, it is Iggy Pop favourite, Jason Williamson (who kicks off proceedings, in "A New Brick", by confirming that we’re all “Tory-tired”). Too true. Who else is in the firing line this time? “Class tourists” in "Nudge It" (featuring Amy Taylor of Amyl & The Sniffers), disingenuous musicians – “I wish I had the time to be a wanker just like you” ("Elocution"), Brexiteers and racists – “I wanna tell the bloke that is drinking near the shop/That it ain’t the foreigners, and it ain’t the fuckin Cov/But he don’t care” ("Out There"). 

Behind everyone’s potty-mouthed poet is the ever-developing, inventive soundscape of Andrew Fearn’s thumping synths. Many of this album’s tracks would make standout instrumentals. But we’re here, if we’re here at all (this isn’t going to convert the naysayers) mostly for the sardonic, sweary, sweaty, swaggering belligerence of a man who writes his verse while sat in the car outside his home. Of course he does.

The title track is funky, funny, despairing with a cracking backing. Elon Musk gets a mention (surely he now has nothing left to achieve?) “taunting us in tweets with a face that looks like beef”. The Spare Ribs of the title are the weakest in society who capitalism – hand-in-hand with Covid – dispenses with disdain. Elsewhere, the stream of consciousness of "Top Room" isn’t for those of a sensitive disposition and "All Day Ticket" almost sounds like a parody.

The diamond in this considerable collection is "Mork & Mindy" which manages to be dirty, hilarious and depressing simultaneously. In a good way. Throwing the mesmerising Billy Nomates into the equation is a stroke of genius. “I wanted things to smell/Like meadows not like hell/Dying dandelions and bumble bees” indeed. And just when you become accustomed to the pulsing rage, they throw another curve ball. What now is this? Nostalgia? "Fish Cakes" looks back to simpler times which may have been a bit bleak (“chip shop birthdays”) but felt real.

2021 – you’ve had your cards marked.

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