Sleaford Mods

English Tapas

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Sleaford Mods were ahead of the curve when it came to reintroducing politics to music, and if English Tapas is anything to go by, they're also on the cutting edge of post-Brexit weariness. As on Key Markets, Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn serve up more character-driven songs that express their constant -- and always timely -- frustrations, whether they're skewering machismo on "Army Nights" or 21st century solipsism on songs like the attention-seeking "Snout" or "Just Like We Do," which calls out "pretentious little bastards on social medias." The duo's state of mind on English Tapas was foreshadowed not only on Key Markets but the T.C.R. EP, whose title track used a toy race car set as a nostalgic metaphor for spinning one's wheels. Fearn and Williamson capture this feeling of being stuck even more literally on ultra-repetitive tracks such as "Time Sands," where crickets and a hip-hop beat create a loop of despair, and "Cuddly," one of the few songs that mentions Brexit by name. Indeed, Sleaford Mods' austerity sounds more grim than bracing on English Tapas, a phrase Fearn saw on a pub's menu board for an item consisting of half a scotch egg, chips, a mini pork pie, and a pickle. With food like that, it's better to focus on drinking, and alcohol features prominently on "Messy Anywhere," "Carlton Touts," and "Drayton Manored," where Williamson's enervated harmonies when he sings "have you ever wondered why you wonder why?" underscore the feelings of emptiness that shadow the album. Perversely, the duo puts some of the catchiest songs at the end of English Tapas, though the increased hooks do little to lighten Williamson's words and mood. On "Dull," he spits out the title like it tastes bad, while "B.H.S." sets his hopelessness to a more active beat. He and Williamson close the album with the standout "I Feel So Wrong," one of their most melodic -- and desperate-sounding -- songs yet. It's an apt finale to English Tapas' numbness and frustration; it might not be as much fun as some of Sleaford Mods' earlier albums, but that's the point.

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