Socialist Worker

Spare Ribs adds new layers to Sleaford Mods’ sound

by Alan Kenny
Issue No. 2737

Spare Ribs by Sleaford Mods

This is a brilliant album from the East Midlands two-piece of Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearns. It’s a Covid-19 era album that talks about that experience with an anti‑capitalist edge.

Williamson has a long‑held and well‑deserved reputation as someone who holds a mirror up to everyday working class lives and delivers acerbic austerity era commentary. My late nan would have loved his singing style because “you can hear every word.”

This is a Sleaford Mods album that is really playing with well-established boundaries of their sound.

On Spare Ribs the musical talents of Andrew Fearns come more to the fore, and it’s welcome. On songs like Out There, Mork n Mindy and Top Room you feel like you’re in a club—which is welcome in the context of our Covid-era social lives.

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This is still their characteristic minimalism—often only two or three sounds at any one time. But they’ve strived for a bigger sound here and it’s paid off big time. Often it’s rooted in sounds that come out of the late 90s, early 00s dance scene.

Williamson’s singing is a bit less deadpan and a bit more relaxed.

There’s one other well-trodden theme that’s repeated on this album. That’s in criticising what he describes as “class‑tourism” and artists who use social questions without understanding them.

This is the subject of an ongoing three-way public feud with excellent contemporaries IDLES and Fat White Family.

One note of criticism is Williamson’s use of the c-word—albeit employed here less than on other albums. My nan wouldn’t like that and neither do I.

But all in all it’s an album they can be very proud of.

Spare Ribs by Sleaford Mods is out on Friday 15 January

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