Wakefield brothers’ Albini-produced seventh effort packs a raw but familiar punch.
In June, The Cribs’ Ryan Jarman declared that their new music would be “riffier, raunchier and dirtier”. Their previous effort, 2015’s For All My Sisters, showcased Ryan (guitar, vocals), alongside his brothers Gary (bass, vocals) and Ross (drums), at their most poppy and polished. Given its mainstream success, reaching number 9 in the UK charts, the band could have been forgiven for attempting to repeat themselves, gaining further commercial success and cementing their place as one of the country’s best, and most loved, indie bands.
However, that is not The Cribs’ modus operandi. Dismissing the temptation to ‘go lo-fi’, 24-7 Rock Star Shit is an emboldened middle finger to the music industry. The album is somewhat sarcastically titled, from a band who are no strangers to cynicism (think earlier songs ‘Hey Scenesters!’ and ‘Our Bovine Public’). Opener ‘Give Good Time’ picks up an intensity that is reminiscent of Sonic Youth, a band who are their self-professed inspiration. The pace is continued by the ferocious ‘Year of Hate’, in which Ryan declares: “it’s the year of hating everything”, above snarling drums. Many of the songs have a DIY feel to them, reflected by the fact that it was recorded live in just 5 days.
24-7 Rock Star Shit was recorded in Chicago with the aid of the infamous Steve Albini, whose lengthy CV in production includes the likes of Nirvana, Pixies, and PJ Harvey. The rawness and power with which he is associated is especially present on the thumping ‘In Your Palace’, the first song to be released from the album. The track displays The Cribs at their explosive best, as guitars reach a glorious crescendo amidst a wall of feedback.
The Jarmans now reside in Portland, Oregon, but there is still much to link them to their humbler beginnings in Wakefield – whether this is found in their distinct, Yorkshire-accented vocals, or in the references to the “gold credits from Horbury School” of their youth on the track ‘Partisan’. Indeed, The Cribs were even the subject of an exhibition in the town’s museum earlier this year. Equally, the band is unquestionably influenced by the grunge and riot grrrl movements of 1990s America, and it is the combination of these influences with a distinct ‘northernness’, that give The Cribs their niche. The new album fares best during its heavier moments, which recall the rougher, in-your-face tracks of 2007’s mainstream breakthrough Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever. These are guaranteed to go down a storm at The Cribs’ raucous live gigs.
Meanwhile, at times 24/7 Rock Star Shit falls into a familiar pattern. ‘What Have You Done for Me?’ and ‘Broken Arrow’, while sure to become fan favourites given the cult status of the band, could easily be found in the latter half of any of The Cribs’ albums. Mournful ballad ‘Sticks Not Twigs’, with its refrain of “wait for me, my baby”, sits a little awkwardly among the declarations of aggression found elsewhere on the record.
Nevertheless, the group is a refreshing addition to today’s indie landscape, which has wilted remarkably since its peak in the mid-noughties. “You’ll only flower once”, snarls Ryan Jarman on ‘In Your Palace’. The Cribs are certainly in bloom.
24-7 Rockstar Shit is out now via Sonic Blew