ALBUM REVIEW: English Tapas by Sleaford Mods

By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

Whilst Sleaford Mods won’t go as far to allege that they ‘tap into the vein of austerity Britan’, it’s certainly fair to say that they hold a cracked mirror up to the pock-marked face of modern Britain, with Jason Williamson’s impassioned rants expertly capturing the anger & betrayal of the modern working class over Andrew Fearn’s minimalist beats.

Though we all yearn for a world where songs on unemployment, austerity, Boris Johnson and waking up with shit in your sock outside the Polish off-licence have no meaning, Sleaford Mods provide a fantastic, aggressive commentary on the State of the Rapidly Disintegrating Union, and with their ninth studio release, English Tapas, it’s business as usual for the Nottinghamshire duo.

Many (whom enjoy dull, bland love songs, sung over the same three chords, missionary sex and floppy-haired middle-class kids with mummy-funded equipment) are quick to criticise Sleaford Mods for the raw, simplistic and rough delivery of their bruising tirades, but that’s what makes their craft so beautiful; for most people, the world is an ugly, unforgiving place, which is communicated through Williamson’s words. A blunt instrument? Absolutely, but a sledgehammer makes more impact than a feather duster, doesn’t it?

Despite less than two years separating English Tapas and their last offering, Key Markets, the world is a different place. We now live in post-Brexit, full-Tory Britain, where across the pond, the only man to ever lose money running a casino is now running America, sinking faster than a squealer wearing concrete shoes.

Poking fun at the Snapchat wankers, fitness freaks and Boris Johnsons of the world in songs like ‘Snout‘, ‘Army Nights‘ & ‘Moptop‘, this album retains the Mods’, specifically Jason Williamson’s policy of providing an honest assessment of the country in which we live. Whilst the fraudulent, moneyed men will try to win you over with their ‘man in a pub’ routine to convince you that they represent the working class, Sleaford Mods speak for those who have been let down by the elite and the establishment, as demonstrated in penultimate track ‘B.H.S‘.

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English Tapas has also seen them push their creative boundaries a little more. Alongside bullet quick rants and spoken word diatribes, Williamson is employing his singing voice a bit more than previously, with Fearn utilising more experimental sounds and beats, most notably in the eerie-sounding ‘Drayton Manored‘.

One of the most enjoyable things about any Sleaford Mods record is the comedy that gets mixed in with the rapid-fire anger. Poetry and piss-taking are on the menu for English Tapas, with not even the usually well-received NME safe in ‘Dull‘, which also takes aim at the elderly who vote for the exact same people who want to fuck them over. Whilst opinion is well divided between people who do and don’t “get” what Sleaford Mods are doing, there’s no denying that they represent a downtrodden, disillusioned and depressed Britain, which, if trends continue the way they are, they won’t be going anywhere.

Whilst this album isn’t the best album they’ve produced, it’s yet again a pointed, brutal & honest rundown of modern life, and the exact tonic to help wash down the bitter realities of modern Britain.

8/10


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TRACK REVIEW: You’re In Love With A Psycho by Kasabian

By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

Back again for a sixth bite of the cherry, Kasabian are back with You’re In Love With a Psycho, the first single from their upcoming studio album, For Crying Out Loud, hoping to further cement themselves as Britrock royalty and the heirs to Oasis’ parka-draped throne.

The cover for the Leicester lads’ new album is a bit odd, for which they’ve got a black and white photo of yer da pulling the same face he does whenever Jeremy Corbyn appears on the telly & stuck some teardrop emojis on it. Lovely stuff. Same goes for the cover for You’re In Love With a Psycho, yer da, this time from the back. Good to see he’s keeping busy.

After the radical-ish electro synth departure that was the inventively titled 48:13 three years ago, the Leicester quintet signaled that their next offering would be a more guitar-centric album, and YINWAP (which, acronymised, sounds like a shit knockoff of WinZip), ratifies that statement, as there are guitars on this track.

The track has a light, bouncy and airy feel to it, following a more familiar Kasabian blueprint than the 48:13 era. The guitar is gentle but gets your foot tapping along with the drum beat, the shared vocal duties between Meighan and Pizzorno are Klassic Kasabian, and quite well performed. It’s not a bad song by any stretch, it’s just a bit… you know… meh, a bit vanilla, a bit ‘mmmyeahalright’. Fingers should be crossed that this is one of the more weaker tracks off the album, and will form part of a well-rounded album.

Lyrical highlights include “I’m like the taste of macaroni on a seafood stick”, which, to be honest, sounds fucking delightful and “you’ve got me switched on baby like electric eels” which is pretty cool. The lyrics are jolly and clever in parts, with the chorus no doubt becoming an all-hands-on-deck singalong when performed live.

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Yer da, showing off his new tattoo.

When all is said and sung, there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about this song, it’s actually quite forgettable. It’ll fit nicely into your workout playlist, good for the pre-drink Spotify queue, but you’ll have forgotten the song by the time it’s finished. Is it a bad song? Not at all, it’s a decent track, if not a little weak, but you have to listen to it a good few times in a row before it starts to sink in.

As part of their return to the public consciousness, Kasabian, in their own Kasabianny way promised that they were going to bring guitar music back from “the abyss”. Alrighty then. First off, do they mean a) Professional wrestler Abyss? b) James Cameron’s 1989 film, ‘The Abyss’ or c) the actual abyss where guitar music hasn’t gone and can’t be found. Guitar music’s perfectly fine, lads, in fact, it would be fair to say that it’s healthier than ever, with new and exciting acts seemingly sprouting from the ground every day!

However boys, if you truly are going to save guitar music, you’d better hope the rest of the album packs a stronger punch, for crying out loud!

4/10


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TRACK REVIEW: Green Light by Lorde

By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

One thing that should always subtly remain with you when listening to Lorde‘s music is her age, and what she’s achieved by it. Around the age of 13/14, she was laying the groundwork for her debut album, Pure Heroine, and by the age of 16, she smashed into the face of the earth, becoming an instant success.

With Pure Heroine, it was the maturity, the depth and the approach that Lorde offered, which some would struggle to produce after years in the game. The crown of fame is heavy, but she has carried it as if she was forever meant to wear it. No tantrums, controversies or raised eyebrows, just a real-life musician who pours her heart and soul into every note.

So, with this information behind us, it’s no surprise that Green Light, the first single from her sophomore offering Melodrama, is a dancy, bouncy tune that masks the heartbreak Lorde weaved into the lyrics.

The song tells the story of the “last 2 wild, fluorescent years of [Lorde’s] life” in her own words. Starting with her doing her “makeup in somebody else’s car” & the person in question in this song being “a damn liar” over a minimalist piano beat, and how “that you said that you’ll always be in love, but you’re not in love”. 

The piano beat slowly begins to rise as she begins to hear “brand new sounds in my mind”, and that she’ll be “seeing you, wherever I go”, but that doesn’t stop the choral backing vocalists becoming more and more excited as the track produces more and more energy until “I’M WAITIN’ FOR IT, THAT GREEN LIGHT I WANT IT!”.

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The chorus has a dancy, nineties feel as she’ll “get [her] things, but [she] can’t let go”, before segueing back into the sombre, minimalist piano beat as Lorde sometimes “wakes up in a different bed, too”, with the lyrical theme subtly, maturely and perfectly covering the protagonist’s heartbreak & the route to mending that patching up that poorly ticker. Closing out with a beautiful, yet simplistic synth-style solo with the energetic choral backing vocals weaving in between it, Green Light offers a frank and honest account of a break-up, with the partying that comes as part and parcel of setting yourself right with a maturity, depth and energy that only someone like Lorde can offer you.

Closing out with a beautiful, yet simplistic synth-style solo with the energetic choral backing vocals weaving in between it, Green Light offers a frank and honest account of a break-up, with the partying that comes as part and parcel of setting yourself right with a maturity, depth and energy that only someone like Lorde can offer you.

Whilst we may expect nothing less in terms of production, sound and lyrical theme from Lorde, this is a stellar track, and will be one of the standout tracks of 2017 until she gives us more of that sweet, sweet electro-pop.

 

8/10


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