Times like these require a band like SLEAFORD MODS. Except, of course, there are no other bands like SLEAFORD MODS!
Polemical frontman Jason Williamson and dexterous producer Andrew Fearn kick against the pricks with unrivalled bite and wit, railing against hypocrisy, inequality and apathy with their inimitable, scabrous sense of humour. And ‘Spare Ribs’, their astonishing 6th album, featuring Amy Taylor of Melbourne punks Amyl and The Sniffers and the British newcomer Billy Nomates, finds the duo charged with ire at the UK Government’s sense of entitlement, epitomized by its devil-may-care approach to the coronavirus crisis.
In fact, SLEAFORD MODS are so plugged into the zeitgeist that attention-grabbing new song ‘Shortcummings’ was written five months before shamed political adviser Dominic Cummings embarked on his infamous trip to Barnard Castle. “I could see some things developing; I got quite interested in what he was about,” says Jason, adding that the song deals with “the disorientation being caused by his ideologies”.
That song emerged from an initial January session at JT Soar Studio in the band’s native Nottingham, a period of creativity that birthed four songs that appear on ‘Spare Ribs’. As we all know too well, though, a lot has happened since then. Sleaford Mods continued to work in lockdown, but something wasn’t sticking. “The songs I’d worked on that Andrew had sent me weren’t very good,” Jason admits. “We flung the rest of the album face-to-face.”
Reunited for a furious two-week studio blitz at JT Soar in July, he and Andrew crafted the rest of their excoriating new 13-song album. It kicks off with their first-ever ‘intro’ track, the experimental ‘A New Brick’, which sees Jason adopt the persona of, as he describes it, a “circus master”, acknowledging with ironic jolliness, “We’re all so Tory tired / And beaten by minds small.” There is, he insists, no reason to feign optimism about 10 years of the Tories: “The only way you can wage war against them by explaining it in an intelligent manner, and not feeling intimidated at coming across as being negative.”
The working-classes are “completely disorientated” by Tory rule, he adds, but SLEAFORD MODS are motivated by truth-telling, rather than sugar-coating. ‘Spare Ribs’ is not an album that offers platitudes or easy answers to class division: ‘A New Brick’, for example, represents “another barricade, another part of the wall that you can’t seem to get over”. Jason’s response is to point this out and laugh bitterly, rather than make the futile claim that he can surmount it, which he says would be empty and “careerist”. Leave that to the other bands SLEAFORD MODS opened the door for when they emerged more than a decade ago.