Published Jan 12, 2021Six albums in, the idiosyncratic style of Nottingham duo Sleaford Mods is still very much intact on Spare Ribs. Andrew Fearn's minimalistic, catchy-as-hell beats are still propping up the antics, while Jason Williamson continues to deliver his run-down, guttural ramblings like the drunken, working-class hero we all presume him to be.
Sleaford Mods have always shoved a kebab-soaked middle finger in the face of anyone (anyone at all) deemed to be a "wanker." This record, however, sees them take chunks out of an identifiable foe — specifically, the British government — more specifically, shamed political advisor Dominic Cummings. In swirling intro "A New Brick," Williamson protests, "We're all so Tory tired, and beaten by minds small," announcing his distaste for Britain's Conservative Party. He then proceeds to rip into Cummings, who got reprimanded earlier this year for breaking lockdown rules during the pandemic, with the sardonic, bass-driven "Shortcummings." In true Mods style, it's both hilarious and melodious.
It also leans on another classic tack by the duo, which is to layer Williamson's voice over other recordings of Williamson's voice. The end result makes for something that's not unlike the rabble of a busy pub on darts night. In fact, the whole thing sounds like it was written, recorded and sponsored by some piss-stained back-alley bar; there's an undeniable layer of grime fusing their whole back catalogue together, and Spare Ribs slides happily into its well-earned spot on the dirt heap.
Sleaford Mods are at the point in their career where some weighty faces would surely jump at the chance to collaborate with them. Hell, Liam Gallagher would probably raise his hand just for the street cred, but Sleaford Mods have done exactly the right thing by choosing to work with some relatively unknowns on the album.
First up is Amy Taylor of Australian band Amyl and the Sniffers, whose decidedly brief contribution to "Nudge It" fits surprisingly well with the Mods' sound. A collab that's a bit closer to home for the duo is the contribution from Bournemouth resident Billy Nomates on "Mork N Mindy." She seems more like a female version of Mods than anyone out there at the moment, but she has a proper singing voice, and as such, shines as one of the only parts of the record that could be deemed pleasant.
The first half of Spare Ribs is actually quite slowed down and weird, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it doesn't complement Williamson's vocals as well. There's something about his East Midlands twang that works far better with a faster tempo. Williamson is just too haggard-sounding to plod along. We need him chugging, and chug he does. The last few tracks, save for outro "Fishcakes," are all quick-fire bangers. The title track and "Thick Ear" absolutely steal the show. Sleaford Mods have shown they can do it slow, but they're still much better when they floor it. (Rough Trade)