Album Review: Sleaford Mods – Spare Ribs (Rough Trade)


After months of putting them off for no special reason I was finally semi-forced to listen to Sleaford Mods through a friend of mine. It seemed to me at first that a Nottingham native may have their own bias reasons for thinking this duo are the second coming of Mark E. Skinner and Mike Smith (or something like that). However, I was pleasantly surprised by the album I was shown, Divide and Exit. That being said I didn’t fall in love with the band, in fact to me they still had something to prove before the release of their latest album Spare Ribs and in true 2021 fashion they have delivered. Taking the flag The Viagra Boys planted just days before and seemingly pissing the words ‘Sleafordz Rule’ onto it, this year really has started incredibly for the music lover. 

One of the main gripes I had with Sleaford Mods’ previous work was the over-simplicity of chorus’ and how, more often than not, they seemed to be shoehorned in because “hey it’s a song I guess we need a chorus” but straight away on Spare Ribs you’re assured it won’t be like that this time around. Shortcummings, my favourite of all the tracks right now, has a fucking B E A utiful bassline that runs throughout and lyrics that are so typically Sleaford Mods the listener can practically guess the next line. 

The album remains at its best when the vocals are this aggressive and the basslines are this dirty with the title track being another song that stands out as a real coked up kebab shop tune. Thick Ear also showcases Sleaford Mods at pretty close to their best with incessant electro drum beats and the slow introduction of a repetitive electric guitar line that fits so well into the song you wonder why they don’t use it for all of their albums.

I Don’t Rate You, in the best way possible, feels like the smackhead uncle of the first half of the album with its dirty synth and processed beat acting as the perfect partner to the vocals that at times feel like they’re coming from a dalek from the midlands that fucking hates the Tories. It’s not all aggression and pessimism though and when this album takes a break it serves as the perfect respite, especially with final track Fishcakes which feels like a well needed joint at the end of a house party you weren’t invited to. Mork n Mindy also leaves you feeling similarly stoned with a semi-dreamy repetitive instrumental that marries the vocals perfectly, especially when Billy Nomates rears her head.

Overall, I would be lying if I said I was excited for this album, especially with the release of Shame’s Drunk Tank Pink on the same day (another great album in 2021, what have I been saying??) but after giving it a listen I have now more than ever been able to understand where Sleaford Mods are coming from sonically. You can try and say they sound like him or her or them or they but it’s useless because you will always end up with a feeling that you haven’t described them properly. Maybe it’s their tendency to keep things so simple when it can be so easy to fall into the trap of wanting to muddy the waters, or maybe it’s just their strong dislike for class appropriators IDLES. Either way Sleaford Mods have proved they are deserving of a place in your playlist and in your hearts if you have any kind of punk values.