Where to start? It’s been two years since The Cribs last long player, Men’s needs…, but in that time the lads from Wakefield have managed to completely re-invent themselves by bringing in Johnny Marr. The match-up between half of the creative force behind The Smiths and the people who brought us ‘Hey Scenesters’ may seem like an obvious one – and that’s because it really isn’t. The fact is, however, that as brilliant as the Jarmans are at making snappy indie-pop songs and giving soundbites to the NME, there is no chance that they could ever attain the level of technical skill that Marr possesses.
Their debut album as a team comes in the form of Ignore the Ignorant, which is now streaming on We7.com, free of charge, and is released for purchase 7th September. Though it may be one of the most anticipated releases of the year, there’s no other way around it than to say that, well… it’s different. Marr’s inclusion in the band appears to have inspired the band to carry on down a route that was hinted at on the last album, in songs such as I’m a Realist. Early in their career, it was the fast, angular songs, driven by an inate passion that got them their name and sold out early gigs.
If you managed to grab We Were Aborted for download over the past few weeks, you could be forgiven for hoping that a return to those days were on the cards. more predictably, much of the album sounds similar to the first single, Cheat on Me. The lyrics still have all the bile and fury that you’d expect from a man who once claimed that the commercialisation of indie music was a bigger danger to the planet than global warming. The words still feel from the heart – it’s just the music that doesn’t. Though the album still sounds good, it lacks the urgency of past releases, giving ITI a more rounded, considered, some may even say safer sound. The result is that, though this is clearly one of the albums of the year, it’s also something that you wouldn’t be ashamed to listen to with your Paul Weller-listening father.
The brothers still clearly understand what it takes to get a crowd jumping though, and their love for a good riff still exists somewhere, but just don’t be expecting to hear anything similar to Another Number on here. In fact, don’t be expecting to hear anything even so experimental as Be Safe on here. Though this is clearly the band’s most complete album, it’s also their most tame. Throughout the album’s penultimate song they even manage to be reminscent of The Kooks’ Always where I need to be, which can only be considered a bad thing. Many of the staples of the band’s repetoire are still present – including the obligatory slow final song. The thing is that much of the album is filled with soaring guitar and well paced, thought-out songs, meaning that nearly every song is a slow one – at least in comparison with the rest of The Cribs’ back-catalog.
It shows the bands first hints of misfiring – the frankly irritating chorus of Hari Kari, for instance. Thankfully, the album’s strong points overcome these stumbles with ease, and the band have certainly matured, and must be pleased with themselves for being able to pull off songs like City of Bugs without it seeming out of place or, indeed, out of their reach. It’s definitely a grower, and certainly a brilliant piece of work, as songs like Last Year’s Snow illustrate, but it certainly does make you yearn for the desperate, angry thrashes of Baby Don’t Sweat, Martell and even Our Bovine Public. Twenty four months is a long time.