Sleaford Mods capped off a landmark 2014 -- which included the release of their acclaimed album Divide and Exit and a fleshed-out version of the singles collection Chubbed Up -- with the Tiswas EP, which finds Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn even more furious than they were earlier in the year. First appearing on Divide and Exit, the EP's title track deserves the spotlight for its inspired songwriting and storytelling. Named for a British children's television show from the late '70s and early '80s, "Tiswas" trades in stagnation and frustration, with Williamson balancing, crackling lyrics like "Cameron's hairdresser got an MBE/I told my wife, 'You'd better shoot me'" with dinosaur and meteor imagery that underscores the track's feeling of borrowed time. The duo is funniest on this song and "6 Horsemen (The Brixtons)," which takes aim at pop culture's ever-shrinking shelf life via a scathing takedown of Razorlight's Johnny Borrell. However, most of Tiswas is notably darker than anything on Divide and Exit or Chubbed Up, and as the EP unfolds, Fearn and Williamson deliver fewer laughs and more grim nods of recognition. "The Mail Don't Fail" rails against the influence of The Daily Mail and other right-wing media ("it'll gather you like willing subjects to sow the upset") over a funereal bassline as vocal harmonies and Dickensian allusions give it a ghostly, poetic undercurrent. Musically, Tiswas is some of the duo's starkest work yet, with "Bunch of Cunts"' loping beats exposing Sleaford Mods' hip-hop roots in lean, somber fashion and "The Demon" stoking Williamson's fiery anger with a funky backbone. Like their other EPs, Tiswas reflects Sleaford Mods' quick wit and even quicker growth; and if Fearn and Williamson sound especially dour here, it's not because their inspiration is waning -- it's because they're digging in for the long haul.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares