“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” The stars of the 2000’s indie rock scene – those that have stood the test of time – always seemed to run on Oscar Wilde’s maxim. The Libertines, The Arctic Monkeys, The Cribs – were all able to use paradoxical manifestos of pained melancholia and wistful, romantic aspiration that were able to whip up fervent fan base’s wishing to be poetically transported to their very own “Albion”.
The Cribs have seen their share of this success but it hasn’t necessarily been that fair, with The Libertines and The Arctic Monkeys headling major festivals while The Cribs always having to seem to make do with the late afternoon slot. Billed as The Cribs’ first attempt at a full-on “Pop” album, is this their bid for that coveted headliner slot? Maybe not, as For All My Sisters is merely business as usual for The Cribs.
‘Burning For No Ones’ choppy angular riff would fit perfectly onto any of Johnny Marr’s recent solo efforts, indication of the former member’s legacy on the band. Coupled with the pop sensibilities of producer Ric Ocasek’s new wave heroes The Cars, it seems the Jarman brothers have discovered the magic formula for the perfect indie pop song. ‘City Storms’ features guitar so infectious that you’ll have to replay the song a hundred times before you’ll start to feel dizzy and have to have a lie down for a few minutes.
The falsetto at the beginning of ‘Different Angle’ is effortlessly juxtaposed with the dense riff that follows. ‘Pacific Time” is The Cribs at their most poignant and affecting as Ryan Jarman ruefully swoons “Radio silence will tell me what I need till I find what you’re hiding from/Maybe the angels have got your tongue”. Every song on the album has that little moment, a piece of genius that immediately connects us to that song, reminding us how vital it is, that amongst all the wearisome, dumbed down mainstream pop, we still have The Cribs – writing great songs bursting with lo-fi cathartic energy and beguiling hooks.
Ryan Jarman’s Wakefield lilt oozes tragic romanticism. A lot is said about his skills as a guitarist but his vocals could and should garner similar attention. In a world, where most indie rock lead singers constrain themselves to bland, controlled vocals, Jarman’s rough and ready, heart on your sleeve approach harks bark to a golden time when indie-punk lead singers weren’t afraid to permit their voices to crumble and crack, as long as the raw emotion would seep through; think Paul Westerberg of The Replacements or Joe Strummer’s languid, yet impassioned snarl.
Sparing the odd synth line, there isn’t much different here from what we have come to expect from The Cribs.
Sometimes The Cribs’ unique and definitive sound can come across as derivative of their back catalogue. The question is, when a band reach this level of consistency, why change? Artistic development? Are The Crib’s merely one-trick ponies? When does it come to a stage where we say enough is enough – what else have you got up your sleeve? If a collection of songs is this downright brilliant though, it feels hard to complain.