It’s all beginning to wear very thin indeed. Ten years ago this already addled Nottinghamshire duo captured the attention with bellowed, caustic and often astute observations delivered in an ur-rap monotone above cheapo punky laptop beats. The message then, humorously enough, was: everything is shit. Total shit. You’re shit, I’m shit, the country’s shit.
This briefly entertaining and frequently obscene working-class nihilism was gratefully received by a music press that, desperately looking for something ‘edgy’, found itself confronted by the mimsy and anodyne public-school folk of Mumford & Sons and Stornoway and Laura Marling. Fair enough: it was, for a while, enlivening and a certain kind of antidote. But, you have to say, with a rapidly diminishing sense of return over the following eight albums.
On their latest, English Tapas, the message is the same as it was in 2009: everything’s shit. And so indeed it is, not least this album, which sounds tired, uninspiring, boring and curiously child-like, even as its progenitors approach their fifties. The beats have not got any more inventive and musically one of the few highlights is the bassline ripped off Cameo’s ‘Word Up’ on ‘Just Like We Do’.
There are, of course, no tunes, just that incessant monotone barking, but the nastiness of the lyrics now seems targeted more at their own fanbase, for daring to get drunk or to smoke, for being ‘dead in the head’. When the best track on the album is called ‘Dull’, you know you’ve got a dog on your hands. A fairly shit dog.