The Cribs are back with new album In The Belly of The Brazen Bull and it’s absolutely fantastic. The Wakefield indie rockers have gone back to their raw, stripped back roots and it’s a breath of fresh air – after the polished production of the bestselling Ignore The Ignorant it’s great to see the band go back to the sound that they started off with. So, who wants a track by track review?
Glitters Like Gold – Kicking off the album with a wall of fuzz and guitar feedback, Glitters like Gold is an indie-rock stomper. Singer Ryan Jarman sings with all his (considerable) might – the lyric ‘My mind will always fight me, with both sides claiming victory’ could well be seen as a reference to his recent breakup with pop songstress Kate Nash. Musically it’s warm, memorable and melodic and it’s a perfect way to start the album.
Come On, Be a No-One – Come On, Be a No-One is The Cribs doing what they do best – joyous, anthemic indie for the iPod generation. It’s dark in places, but what it’s got is a good old hands-in-the-air, scream your heart out chorus and by God does it sound brilliant. Powerful drumming and pulsing basslines square up to thrashing guitars to form a tightly packed bundle of musical brilliance.
Jaded Youth – Sharp and catchy from the start, Jaded Youth is probably the poppiest song on the album. Harmonies and musical breaks carry the track, and Ryan Jarman sounds positively furious as he rushes his way through a speedy and barnstorming melody. It’s punchy, powerful and positively brilliant.
Anna – This one’s different. It’s a love song, pure and simple – lyrics like ‘I’m not yet who I wanna be, so help me to change…’ may not be as poetic as Lennon or Turner but when delivered with intensity and power they sound like the sweetest sonnet ever spoken. Musically it’s shaking and charming, with a chiming guitar riff running through the whole track. The ‘DIY’ production ethic is shown particularly well on Anna – it goes a long way towards capturing the live Cribs sound, which is a VERY good thing; these boys are one of the best live bands we’ve ever seen!
Confident Men – Drums that sound like Queen? Check. Psychedelic, Beatles influenced harmonies? Check. Yes, Confident Men is the album’s first slow track, and it’s a real beauty. It shows the sensitive side of a band who pride themselves on being indie, which makes it a real joy to listen to.
Uptight – Back to normal then! Uptight is a fast-paced and bass-led ride on an emotional rollercoaster – Ryan Jarman shrieks the immortal words ‘no-one has to tell me, I know I have to let it go…’ over the top of a musical melee. Crashing cymbals and a truly brilliant sing-along chorus make Uptight a real highlight of the album.
Chi-Town – A wail of guitar feedback quickly turns into a bouncy and uncut rocker that could easily pass as something from the back catalogue of The Jam. The chorus of ‘H! S! S!’ is random but brilliant – it sounds like the lovechild of Julian Casablancas and Paul Weller, and it’s another album highlight.
Pure O – Pure O is arguable a little bit too ‘safe’ – The Cribs are, and have always been, pushing the boundaries of guitar music, and this track is just another indie love song. For what it is it’s OK – a memorable guitar riff contrasts nicely with drum fills and the album’s first mini-guitar solo. However, we feel that they could have done a little bit better.
Back To The Bolthole – This one’s cheerful, isn’t it? Back To The Bolthole is an anthemic, tear your heart out and cry sort of song. Singer Ryan (literally) screams the words ‘I, one day, will die’ throughout the chorus, and the dark and melodic rhythm guitar give the track an overall eerie feel. It’s fantastic, none the less!
I Should Have Helped – I Should Have Helped is a soft, acoustic song, and it’s a nice breather from the frantic pace of the album. The lyrics deal with death and depression – ‘You were lost when the cloud came down’ go some way to showing Jarman’s fragile mental state during the making of the album. It’s a genuinely touching track and a departure from the rest of the album – we love it.
Stalagmites/Like A Gift Giver/Butterflies/Arena Rock Encore – Seriously, this piece (separated on the album into four tracks) is possibly the best thing we’ve heard all year. It’s the sound of The Cribs evolving into the fully fledged arena-rock band they’ve always been capable of being. Fuzzy guitars, sweet solos and little instrumental breaks mark the transitions from track to track – it’s just unreal. Melodic, catchy, and with enough stadium filling choruses to make Bono shit himself, the end of the album is as good as that of any album we’ve ever heard. Fact. And Arena Rock Encore? WOW? A stadium shattering, kiss the sky flourish to finish off In The Belly of The Brazen Bull and mark The Cribs’ transition from boys to men. A fantastic album by a truly fantastic band – go out and get it.